Flexible working loses 'family friendly' image

Peter Thomson's picture

This week in the UK the legislation on the 'right to request flexible working' has changed. It has moved form being just applicable to parents and carers to now being a right for ALL employees (after 26 weeks of employment to be exact). This might seem like a small change in the law but it is a fundamental change in the evolution of work.

No longer is flexible working officially 'family friendly'. Anyone who wants to vary their working patterns can ask their employer, and their request has to be taken seriously. It can of course be turned down for good business reasons but not because someone has, or doesn't have, children. So managers are likely to be faced with requests from people who might not have wanted to try under the old regime and when making the decision should ignore the employee's personal reasons for wanting to work differently.

As we say in the book, Future Work is all about new working practices that provide business benefits such as increased productivity and lower employee turnover. People should be adopting flexible working patterns because they are able to be more effective employees. This applies whether they have children or not. So let's stop referring to flexible working as 'family friendly' and start calling it 'business friendly'.

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