Northern Ireland announces flexible working extension

Northern Ireland’s minister, Sir Reg Empey has announced an extension to its flexible working legislation. 

Northern Ireland’s employment minister, Sir Reg Empey has announced an extension to its flexible working legislation.
From 18 July 2010, the right to request flexible working will be extended to cover working parents of children aged 16 and under. The right is already available to parents of children under six, disabled children under 18 and carers of adult dependants. Under the right, an employee with six months’ continuous service with their employer can make a formal request for flexible working.
The employer must consider the request carefully and can turn it down only where there is a valid business reason.
Commenting on the legislation, the Minister said: “This will be welcome news for working parents striving to strike a better balance between their commitments at home and in the workplace. The right to request flexible working has been a success to date, and in announcing the extension, I am seeking to build on that success.
“I would like to reassure employers that, where they carefully consider a request but cannot accommodate it for business reasons, they will continue to have the scope to turn it down. This legislation is business-friendly and does not seek to place a burden on hard-pressed businesses.”
Pointing to the benefits the Minister said: “It is clear that many businesses can and do accommodate flexible working. Research has shown that 95% of employers agree that people work best when they can balance their work and other aspects of their lives. Around three quarters of requests are agreed in full by employers. Flexible working arrangements can lead to better employee relations and have a positive effect on labour turnover, absenteeism, productivity and recruitment.”
Extension of the right follows consultation last year in which a range of options for extending the right were explored. The extension brings Northern Ireland into line with the law on flexible working elsewhere in the rest of the UK.

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