YORKSHIRE manufacturers will face “practical problems” making it easier for employees to request flexible working and take time off for training.
An extra 4.5m parents will gain the right to request flexible working, following the publication of the government’s independent review.
Business Secretary John Hutton said he had accepted recommendations made by Imelda Walsh, human resources director at supermarket company Sainsbury’s, to extend the right to request flexible working to parents of children up to age 16.
The Government is consulting businesses and other interested groups.
Alan Hall, regional director for employers’ group the EEF, said: “Our evidence suggests that while many companies had seen the benefits of flexible working, a majority had experienced problems in adapting to the legislation.
“Giving yet more employees the right to request time off will impact especially hard on the smallest companies – which are already struggling to adapt to flexible working – and will increasingly require employers to adopt the judgement of Solomon in deciding who has time off for training or who is allowed flexible working.”
The EEF had urged the Government to delay plans until companies have adjusted – or risk denying employees with legitimate reasons for asking to work flexibly the opportunity to do so.
Mr Hall said proposals to extend the amount of time off for training “will not on their own result in improved skills”.
He said: “Any moves to raise individuals’ involvement in their skills development cannot be introduced in isolation. Importantly, this should not divert focus from supporting companies taking a structured approach to quality training.”
The EEF survey of 446 companies published in April 2008 showed two-thirds of employers reported that flexible working had created practical problems.
The most common were extra pressure on other employees, difficulties arising from sections being left short-staffed and difficulty in managing flexible working practices.