Looking back over my previous blogs, I see that in July 2008 I pointed out the discrepancies between maternity and paternity provisions in the UK and hoped that they would get changed. Today at last I see that the government is starting a consultation process on the idea that parents can share the leave between them. see http://tiny.ly/X7gZ

This looks like a step in the right direction, but included amongst the proposals is the extension of the right to request flexible working to all employees, not just parents and carers. Whilst this is a welcome development, one I have argued for over the years, it is a pity to see it bound up in a package of ‘family friendly’ provisions and still firmly in the ’employee benefit’ camp. Inevitably some employers will see this as yet another imposition on business and will equate flexible working with other parental rights that are an additional burden.

In practice there is overwhelming evidence that flexible working makes people more productive, reduces absenteeism and lowers employee turnover. Let’s see it promoted as good business sense that also happens to be an employee benefit, not the other way round.

To be fair to Vince Cable, he is quoted as saying “But I’m also confident that we have a good case to make on the wider benefits to business – not least from a motivated and flexible workforce and we will be making this case to employers over the next few years before these changes are introduced.” However this still comes as an afterthought not the main argument.