UK Government suggests need for more work flexibility

UK Government suggests need for more work flexibility

A proposed review of current flexible working options, could lead to more people being allowed to work flexibly

Helpdesks and IT managers could be under more pressure to provide flexible working opportunities for staff, courtesy of legislation outlined in the Queen's speech.

The proposal could give parents with school-age children up to the age of 17, the right to request flexible working.

The pressure could come from two areas, the need to secure remote access connections and the need to make sure that confidential company data stored and accessed on laptops, PDAs and flash memory devices, is secured in the event of left or loss.

Unified systems security firm Lumension Security's regional vice president Alan Bentley said that such a law could create such risks. "Introducing wide-spread home working will mean more workers will be traveling on public transport and motorways with their laptops and mobile devices that that contain significant amounts of corporate data. Unless properly protected, a forgotten laptop or misplaced USB drives will put businesses at risk," he explained.

Currently workers can request to work flexibly, if their children are aged six or under, or if they have disabled children up to the age of 18.

A spokeswoman for the Equality and Human Rights commission (ex-equal opportunities commission), said, "there's a clear business case for flexible working and an extension to flexible working rights would also make a significant contribution to narrowing the pay gap between men and women, which they said was currently around 17 per cent."

The government has set up an independent review to report in the spring, chaired by Sainsbury's human resources director Imelda Walsh. The review will examine the effect of a range of age thresholds, which could be applied to parents with schoolchildren as old as 17. It could mean an extra 4.5m workers being given the right to ask for flexible working, although employers can refuse to grant flexible working unless there is a specific business case for it.