The New Statesman has an article about flexible working for parents. Basically, it argues that the budget’s halt to the the extension of flexible working and the review of regulations sends the message that flexible working arrangements are a burden for business.
I’m a fan of flexible working. Firstly, it’s beneficial to families, allowing them to negotiate the arrangements which suit them. As women still tend to do the majority of household tasks and childcare, this is very much an issue for women. Secondly, flexible working is beneficial for businesses, with evidence that employees are more productive and more likely to stay with the company.
Providing the right of parents to request flexible working is hardly the state meddling in business. It’s a right to request, not a requirement to provide. It indicates that the Government supports families, but leaves the details up to the individual employees and their employers. It’s not intrusive and it doesn’t assume that there’s a right way for the parents in a family to live and work.
If flexible working becomes harder to negotiate, families will find their choices constrained. Many may well decide that both parents cannot afford to work, and it’s likely that women will lose out on work, men will lose out on time with their children and the economy will lose out on workers.