Flexible working delays slammed

Legislation to extend the right to request flexible working could be delayed by a review from newly-appointed Treasury Secretary Peter Mandelson.

Reports over the weekend showed Mandelson was considering reviewing the plans to extend flexible working legislation to cover parents of older children - in addition to the current law, which gives the right to request to anyone with children who are under six or disabled.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Yvette Cooper denied the review would result in a delay, telling GMTV that: "What Peter Mandelson's been doing is looking at a whole range of ways in which we can support small businesses, help them through what are very difficult times as a result of what's going on in the global economy."

She added: "What we clearly can't do, however, is do that in a way which makes life more difficult for people who are working for businesses, people who are worried about their jobs, and people who need flexible working, people who need additional support at work."

But Nasstar chief executive Charles Black said working flexibly is easy with current tech: "In the modern business world, employees should be able to work from anywhere at anytime," he said. "The technology certainly exists to enable them to do so, but far too many organisations are failing to provide employees the flexibility they deserve."

Delaying the legislation sends "the wrong message," according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD). "These reports send out completely the wrong message. They assume that flexible working is a burden on business, and the kind of charitable extra that can be cut back in tougher times," said Jackie Orme, the CIPD's chief executive.

"The reality is that flexible working can deliver competitive advantage by improving employee engagement and attracting talented people to organisations that otherwise might remain outside the workforce."