Flexible working should be default, says MP Helen Whately

Helen Whately (right)
Image copyrightPARLIAMENT TV
Image captionHelen Whately (right) used the 10 Minute Rule to bring her bill to Parliament

Flexible working should be the default position for all employees, rather than it being up to individuals to request.

Ms Whitehouse, known on social media as Mother Pukka, founded the Flex Appeal campaign after her own flexible working request was refused by her employer.

She told the BBC: “Today was a huge moment after campaigning on the streets for five years now. Now it feels like people are finally listening.”

The mother-of-two, now an author and blogger, said she wanted to “open employers’ eyes that there are humans driving their business”, and retaining staff would be far easier if people were better able to balance their work and family lives.

Ella Smillie, from the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, said: “We urge MPs to give Helen Whately’s bill the support it deserves.

“Ensuring that employers offer flexible working would open up new jobs to a whole raft of people who want to work, alongside carrying out caring responsibilities or simply achieving a better work-life balance.

“There are also clear benefits to employers – offering flexible working to employees creates a stronger, loyal and more diverse workforce, which pays dividends.”

Presentational grey line

Types of flexible working

  • Job-sharing
  • Working from home
  • Part-time
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexitime
  • Annualised hours
  • Staggered hours
  • Phased retirement

Source: gov.co.uk website

Presentational grey line

Ms Whately gave an example of a male lawyer who asked his employer if he could work flexibly one day a week, only to be asked what his wife was doing.

“All these conversations start with a presumption against flexibility,” the MP said. “I ask what if we flip the question and ask whether a job can’t be done flexibly.

“How many more employers would find that actually it didn’t make a difference where or when a piece of work was done, as long as it was done?”

MPs often use Ten Minute Rule bills to gain publicity and support for an issue they care about – they are unlikely to become law unless they get government backing.

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