Flexible working rights extended

Now anyone with children 16 and under can request the right to work from home.

The right to request flexible working has been extended to any parent with children under the age of 16.

As the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform explained, for the past two years, employees caring for children under six, disabled children, or ill adults had a statutory right to request the right to work flexibly whether that be shift work or working from home. Now, that right is extended to anyone with children 16 and under.

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Harriet Harman, minister for Women and Equality, said in a statement: "Children don't stop needing their parents' time when they reach their sixth birthday."

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) welcomed the change. "Companies whose workers enjoy the benefits of flexible working are likely to feel less stressed and less anxious about balancing their lives at home and work, which means they are more committed and productive while at work," said general secretary Brendan Barber.

"I hope all employers who receive flexibility requests consider them seriously and do all they can to make flexible working a reality."

Indeed, companies still have the right to refuse such requests, and those people without children are certainly welcome to ask their bosses to work from home just their employer isn't legally required to pay attention.

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Firms could deny the right to work flexibly over cost concerns, and may avoid it because its too complex or too risky, one IT company suggested, explaining that companies can support working from home by offering the same IT tools at home as they do in the office.

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"The snow day' a couple of months ago was a clear indicator of the importance of workplace flexibility, and hopefully this legislation will be a further push for companies to extend IT models to incorporate mobile workers," Roger Hockaday, director of marketing EMEA at Aruba Networks said. "Only then will organisations be able to grant employee requests for flexibility when asked rather than shying away because it's too complex, or just too risky."

That said, the UK is already a leader in flexible working and tech firms are well ahead of the curve.

Click here to read why companies should care about flexible working.

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