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Plans to go ahead with extending flexible working rights criticised

The government's intention to press ahead with plans to allow all workers the right to request flexible working has been criticised by a leading business group.

Home Secretary, Theresa May, who gave a major speech on inequality policy and the Equalities Act, said that the right of employees to ask their bosses if they can work flexibly would be extended to all workers, not just parents and carers.

Ms May did not, however, confirm whether the government would keep to Labour's pledge to oblige employers to make disclosures on the pay rates of male and female employees.

The Institute of Directors (IoD) expressed concern over the announcement on flexible working.

Alistair Tebbit, the IoD spokesman, said: "Theresa May should let businesses decide for themselves how they manage their staff rather than creating new employment rights and lecturing directors and managers about how they should be introducing more flexible working arrangements for their employees.

"A government truly committed to being pro-enterprise would be thinking about abolishing the existing right to request flexible working. We know that creating another formal employment right will only add to the excessive amounts of administration firms have to undertake to comply with existing regulations."

Mr Tebbit added: "Yes, flexible working brings benefits to some businesses, but why formalise in law a request process that takes place informally already, especially when there is no evidence at all that this would lead to more flexible working opportunities?"