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Government inquiry into flexible working

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The BBC recently reported that fathers are ‘afraid to ask for flexible working’ believing that making such a request can harm their careers. Reference was made to the 2017 Modern Families Index which produced a “snapshot into the lives of UK Working families” and highlighted the UK’s risk of creating a “fatherhood penalty”. This penalty refers to the cost suffered by fathers who consider “stalling or side-lining their careers to find roles they can better combine with family life”. (For details of the report, click here.)

The government has now launched the Fathers and the workplace inquiry and the committee involved, the Women and Equalities committee, is looking into the issue.

The launch of this inquiry follows a report by the committee on the Gender Pay Gap that was issued in March 2016. It reported that the government’s flagship policy of Shared Parental Leave, introduced in 2015, is likely to have little impact, with a predicted take-up rate of just 2-8%.

Many fathers are committed to fulfilling their caring responsibilities to their children. Let’s hope this new inquiry leads to recommendations that will make it easier for men and women to work flexibly without damaging their careers.

Key points about the law on flexible working

  • All employees who have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks have a statutory right to request flexible working.
  • This law applies to all – not just to parents and carers.
  • If an employee submits a request for flexible working, the employer must handle it in a reasonable manner. For example, the employer must assess the application’s advantages and disadvantages. A meeting with the employer might be appropriate to discuss the request.
  • Employers can refer to an ACAS Code of Practice for “handling in a reasonable manner requests to work flexibly”.
  • An employer must have a good business reason to refuse the application.
  • Employees who feel that their request has not been handled in a reasonable manner can take their employer to an Employment Tribunal.


For further information about working flexibly and handling flexible work applications, please contact Susan Mayall on 0161 684 6948, email or make an enquiry.

Please note that the information and opinions contained in this article are not intended to be comprehensive, nor to provide legal advice. No responsibility for its accuracy or correctness is assumed by Pearson Solicitors and Financial Advisers Ltd or any of its members or employees. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking, or refraining from taking, any action as a result of this article.

This blog was posted some time ago and its contents may now be out of date. For the latest legal position relating to these issues, get in touch with the author - or make an enquiry now.

Written by Susan Mayall


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