The right to request flexible working could eventually be given to all employees, under new plans outlined in the Queen’s speech.
Yesterday the Queen set out the coalition Government’s legislative agenda for its first year, which includes a proposed extension of the current rules on flexible working.
At present, parents of children up to the age of 16 or parents of disabled children up to 18, have the right to request flexible working patterns, providing that they have at least 26 weeks of service. Carers of adults with disabilities also share this right.
The plans have prompted a mixed response from business and employment groups.
The British Chambers of Commerce said it had ‘serious concerns over any additional Government regulation in this area’, while TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber claimed that the move could ‘bring positive changes to UK workplaces.’
The Government has vowed to consult with businesses on how best to implement the plans, although it is thought that the changes will not take effect in this Parliament.
A total of 22 Bills were unveiled in the Queen’s speech, which Prime Minister David Cameron hailed as a ‘radical programme for a radical Government’. Other legislation announced includes:
- A National Insurance Contributions Bill to block next year’s 1% rise in NI contributions by employers
- A Pensions and Savings Bill which will restore the link between earnings and the state pension from 2012 . It will also phase out the default retirement age and set a timetable for raising the state pension age
- A Financial Reform Bill to address the regulation of the financial services.
The coalition will hold its ’emergency Budget’ on 22 June.