The Right to Request Flexible Hours at Work
Just when you might have thought the Government would be looking to go a little easier on companies for a while – what with there having been more and more bureaucracy and regulations being introduced lately to bog them down and force them even closer toward bankruptcy, yet another suggestion is being put forward that is absolutely bound to tug at the purse strings of employers even further.
It has recently been announced that the Government are looking to extend the right to work flexible hours to everybody by the year 2014. Provided they have worked in continuous service for at least 26 weeks. At present, only people with children under the age of 17 and those responsible for taking care of vulnerable adults (either in or out of their own home) may be considered for such working practices.
The reasoning behind this is purely economical; it is believed that an additional 1 million women in the UK workforce could help to boost the overall GDP by an additional £42 billion a year. Apparently, at the moment, in comparison with similar countries around the world, the United Kingdom is woefully lacking when it comes to the number of women working within the national workforce. In fact, officially it is ranked 15th in the OECD.
Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, appears to be the biggest driving force behind this proposal. He has recently said that he believes it is time our country abandoned the outdated practices of the past – we no longer live in a world where there is only one bread-winner per household. Most families nowadays have both adults working for a living. Moreover, it has also been established that women tend to fare much better at school; have a higher chance of making it to university; and this in turn means that the UK job market is really missing out on so much extra potential here.
These new flexible working hour regulations are said to be available to everyone – after all, the Government does not want to be accused of being sexist – but their ultimate intention is to get as many women back to or into work as is possible.
Whilst we can all see why this proposal is being put forward, it does still beg the question of why are the Government looking to do this right now? For goodness sakes, it is a fact that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are already struggling to ride-out this current economic downturn; it is also a fact that the current Government have done nothing but bombard them with new laws and regulations which are nearly always detrimental to them financially. Surely it makes better sense to just pop this proposal on the back-burner for a time and allow employers to surface for a little air.