Parents want more flexible working

New research shows parents want more flexible working. Plus other news.

Some 83% of fathers and 86% of mothers want to work flexibly, but more than two thirds have not been able to get the flexibility they need, according to new research.
A study by Mumsnet and Dad Info for the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 71% of dads and 68% of mums say they do not have the flexible working set-up they would prefer, 39% of mums and 40% of dads can’t afford the work set-up they would prefer, 32% of mums and 20% of dads says their employer would not allow them to work flexibly and 11%of mums and 22% of dads were worried that flexible working could have a detrimental impact on their career prospects.
Mums said they had faced discrimination at work when they had announced they were pregnant or after returning from maternity leave.
Commenting on reports that the Government is reviewing extending the right to request flexible working, Nicola Brewer, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: "Genuinely flexible working is part of the solution, not part of the problem. Flexibility provides business opportunities to deal with turbulent times."
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Government to review flexible working extension
The Government has announced plans to review proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of children under 16.
The proposals were due to come into effect from next April.
The Government said no decisions had been taken, but it had to balance the concerns of businesses in the current economic situation with the concerns of working families. Plans to extend maternity provision may also come under review.
Business leaders welcomed the move and some called for the proposals to be scrapped.
But TUC general secretary Brendan Barber said: "Postponing a simple right to request flexible working would not save a single job in the small business sector. If such a request harms the business, the owner can say no.
"This would be an astonishingly irrelevant response to the severe economic downturn that we face and, in addition, would run the risk of sending a message to working parents that the government is not on their side."
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive of Working Families, said: “When productivity and increased competitiveness are a priority, it is not the time to abandon flexible “smart” working practices.  Research from Working Families and Cranfield School of Management published earlier this year demonstrates higher levels of employee motivation, commitment and performance for flexible workers – all vitally needed in the current climate.
Patricia Hewitt, who introduced the legislation on flexible working when she was Trade and Industry Secretary, said it might make more sense for employers to implement flexible working and reduce employees’ hours rather than make them redundant in the current climate.
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Work smarter in economic crisis, says group
Employers are likely to look at the benefits of flexible working as the economic crisis deepens, says Work Wise UK.
Ahead of National Commute Smart Week, which begins on 26th October, Work Wise says the benefits of flexible working include lower overheads for employers, more productivity, a demonstrable commitment to the environment and happier employees.
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Children with two working parents prosper, says study
Children of highly educated, working parents have fewer behavioural problems and do better at school, says a study by the Institute of Education.
The study, based on interviews with 15,000 families of babies born in 2000, found the children of families where both parents worked and were well educated had more cognitive skills and fewer behavioural problems than others.
Parents who had no educational qualifications were a year behind in their vocabulary when they started school and boys were two months behind girls at five. This gap widens over their school years.
The study also found that parents with higher educational qualifications did more reading and other activities with their children. Working mothers were slightly more likely than stay at home mothers to shout at their children regularly.
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