||The Minister for Children, Young
People and Families, Beverley Hughes, has thrown the cat amongst
the pigeons by calling for the right to request flexible work to
be extended to all workers.
The call is expressed in a forthcoming book to be published by
think-tank IPPR, Politics for a New Generation: The Progressive
Movement to celebrate 10 years of Labour government.
Ms Hughes feels that all workers should be able to work
part-time, with flexible hours or at home, otherwise flexible
working risks being pigeon-holed as an issue just for working
mothers. She goes on to argue the relevance in terms of the
business benefits, and also in terms of people's aspirations for a
life outside work and social change with an ageing society.
"Many working people say they feel time-squeezed. With more
women at work, an ageing population and many people aspiring to
volunteer or to further develop their skills, government and
employers need to recognise that balancing work and life is an
issue that's not going away".
The call should come as no surprise to flexibility readers.
Back in 2003 when the "right to request" provisions came in we
said they were a deliberate "Trojan Horse" set up by the
government to breach the citadel of workplace conservatism.
The current provisions are a start, but inherently
discriminatory, and cannot be justified in the long run. And
once employers find that the sky will not fall, the right can be
extended to everyone.
Flexibility, of course, welcomes her statement - which would
not have been made or or trailed in advance like this unless it
had official blessing, at least as a means of sounding out the
Work-life Balance - an issue for government
Balancing work and life is an issue
that's not going away, according to UK Children and
Families Minister Beverley Hughes MP.
government already extending the "right to request" flexible
to carers, Ms Hughes sees it as being a "natural progression"
to extend it to the whole workforce, whether or not they have
parental or other caring responsibilities.
Beverley Hughes is right.
But with the
staking their claims as champions of flexible working, perhaps we're starting
to see the beginning of a "bidding" war amongst the parties to be
the most flexible!