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Flexible working should apply to all employees

The Government should press ahead with plans to make flexible working available to all workers or else run the risk of creating a two-tier employment environment.

In its response to the consultation on Modern Workplaces, the Chartered Institute of Development and Personnel (CIPD) argued that businesses of all sizes can enjoy distinct benefits from flexible working.

Under Government plans, all employees will have the right to request flexible working packages by 2015.

These include flexible parental leave and equal pay rules, as well as the right to ask for alternative employment practices such as homeworking and flexi-time.

There has been pressure on the Government to exempt the very smallest of employers from the rules.

But the CIPD has countered by saying that flexible working should not be seen as a perk for parents and carers but as a genuine aid to running a progressive and efficient business operation.

Any exemption would impose a divide between larger and smaller firms, one that would place those smaller employers at a disadvantage.

Research by the CIPD has shown that over a half (54 per cent) of potential employees look for employers who provide a good pay and benefits package as opposed to job satisfaction.

Mike Emmott, the CIPD's employee relations adviser, said: "The truth is that many employers ­large and small have anticipated the Government's proposals and are willing to consider requests from any employee. They see the business benefits of helping employees balance their work with their personal commitments at a time when organisations need to be driving a competitive edge through their workforce.

We believe that the flexible working regulations are a great example of light-touch legislation and we see no case for excluding micro-businesses and start-ups when the regulations are extended. Excluding businesses of any size from the application of employment regulation would tend towards the creation of a two-tier labour market and could be a perverse disincentive for small businesses to expand."