HOW FLEXIBLE IS YOUR EMPLOYER BEING WITH FLEXIBLE WORKING REQUESTS

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Conference
2011 National Women's Conference
Date
21 October 2010
Decision
Carried as Amended

Too many employers view flexible working as only benefiting the employee. Some employers believe that a desire to work flexibly implies a lack of commitment, that it is primarily a benefit for working mothers and that it will breed resentment among those who don’t work flexibly. These attitudes represent the biggest obstacle to flexible working. Apart from enhancing work life balance for employees, with the added health benefits, and reducing the need to travel, flexible working can significantly improve productivity, enabling organisations to reduce costs, for example with home working, whilst improving efficiency and boosting motivation and morale.

However, the internet based organisation Workingmums.co.uk reported that many women are being forced to leave their jobs after being denied flexible working, according to a survey they carried out in March 2010. The survey found that of those women who responded, over half (fifty five per cent) of working mothers said they had had their requests for flexible working turned down and have had to leave their jobs as a result, whilst nineteen per cent had their request turned down but remained in post. Only twelve per cent said their employer had been very flexible.

Top Employers for Working Families 2010 Awards organised by the Charity Working Families were last year given to public and/or private organisations that were able to demonstrate outstanding work life balance practices – twelve were given awards for outstanding work life balance practices and a further thirty recognised for their work life practices and of those forty two organisations only one was a public sector employer.

Conference believes that the impact of the cuts to the public sector will now put women at a further disadvantage as, for example employers are even more likely to turn down requests for part time working arrangement when they are concerned that they will not be able to back fill due to cost restraints. However, conference believes that the cuts will result in ‘knee jerk’ reactions from line managers and employers, refusing all flexible working requests without considering them properly and/or without considering any compromises or alternative remedies.

Conference calls on the National Women’s Committee to:

1)Using the wealth of information available on the impact of the right to request flexible working, provide a factsheet and guidance to branches to raise awareness and to provide information on how to deal with flexible working requests in the workplace.

2)Work with service groups and regional women’s networks to encourage branches to gather information on flexible working practices locally, and to use the guidance to support members wishing to exercise their right to request

3)Report back to Women’s Conference in 2012.