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Will women benefit from the extension to flexible working?

 April 30, 2013

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The plans were revealed as a stimulus to end some women being excluded from contributing to the economy due to childcare. It is hoped that these proposals will replenish the economy with the missing one million women who cannot work due to high childcare costs. The aim is that the workplace will better reflect the trends in society, where girls out-perform boys at school.

Although parents have had the right to request flexible working for almost a decade, this has not resulted in more women in the workplace. These proposals will give any friend or family member the right to request flexible working to look after children. 
Childcare will not be the only reason for flexible working requests. The proposals allow for requests to be made for caring for elderly parents and volunteering. This will no doubt increase the competition for flexible working. Employers will now need to make decisions on which 'cause' is more worthy of flexible working.
Some mothers already feel a hint of resentment from colleagues when they are given the flexibility for childcare. This may be heightened if a flexible working request for childcare is granted instead of one to care for an elderly relative.
The relationship between employee and employer may also become strained, as the administrative burden of processing requests increases. Further bitterness could develop if the employer declines a flexible working application. 
Perhaps women would benefit more from having better access to affordable childcare. Child care is costly and this is is partly because of the decline in qualified childminders.
Although the idea of family and friends helping out with childcare appears to be a good one, it may be difficult in reality as modern families are normally more insular and may not have the support network in the first place.
The plans are due to be implemented in 2014 and it remains to be seen whether they will truly facilitate women entering or returning to the workplace. Whether in agreement or not, it must be acknowledged that public discussion about women and the impact they have on the economy is  positive and worthwhile.

The author of this blog is Karan Y. Johnson from www.writeandgood.com

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