Harriet Harman

Parliament has been dissolved until after the General Election and I am no longer an MP


From today, 6th April, an extra 4.5million parents of children aged 16 and under will be able to request flexible working from their employer. This is in addition to the six million parents and carers who already have the right.

New research shows half of working parents (51 per cent) say their relationship with their child would improve if they could work flexibly.

The survey, commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, shows that two-thirds of working parents state it would be helpful to work flexibly as their children get older. Half of parents of 11-16 year olds said that they would help with homework if they could find the time. More than half (53 per cent) feel their job prevents them spending the amount of time they would like with their children.

Children don’t stop needing their parents’ time when they reach their sixth birthday. We have already built a strong foundation of support for families through the right for parents with children under six to request flexible work. But, as any parent knows, older children going through the teenage years need just as much support and guidance.

Families are the framework of our lives and matter not just to individuals but to our communities, the economy, and society as a whole. Mothers often tear their hair out trying to balance earning a living with bringing up their children and need more flexibility at work. And fathers want to be able to play a bigger part in bringing up their children. 
This is why we have changed the law to extend flexible working rights to parents of older children. We will continue to work with business to ensure that families continue to have real choices about how they live their lives, at the same time as making the economy strong and competitive.

The survey shows that parents see the business benefits of flexible working, with three in five (59 per cent) saying it would improve staff morale, two in five (40 per cent) working mums believing flexible working would reduce absenteeism, and more than a quarter saying it would improve staff retention and attract talented staff. Recognised business benefits of flexible working also include increased productivity and recruitment savings.


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