MORE than half of working parents in Yorkshire believe their relationship with their children would improve if they could work flexibly.
A survey among working parents in the region showed 51% thought they and their children would benefit from being able to work different hours.
Some 42% said they would be able to help with homework if they had more time while 57% felt their job prevented them spending the amount of time they would like with their children.
Some 60% of working parents in the region felt flexible working would improve staff morale at work while 29% thought it would reduce absenteeism. Thirty per cent said it would improve staff retention.
However, 53% of parents in Yorkshire were concerned about their employers’ reaction if they requested flexible working.
The survey, commissioned by the Government Equalities Office, also showed that 30% feared it would mark them as less committed to their job. A quarter were concerned it might harm their prospects of promotion.
New laws came into effect this week giving all parents of children aged 16 and under the right to ask their employers for flexible working arrangements.
Employees need to have worked for their employers for a minimum of 26 weeks.
The move means a total of 10m people will now be entitled to request flexible working.
Previously, only parents with children aged up to six, parents of disabled children up to 18 and carers of adults could request flexible working.
Under the new law, employers must seriously consider all applications and only reject them if there are good business grounds for doing so.
Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, commented: “Children don’t stop needing their parents’ time when they reach their sixth birthday.
“As any parent knows, older children going through the teenage years need just as much support and guidance.”
She added: “Families are the framework of our lives and matter not just to individuals but to our communities, the economy and society as a whole.”
Ms Harman said mothers trying to balance earning a living with bringing up their children needed more flexibility at work – while fathers wanted to be able to play a bigger part in bringing up their children.”
Along with extending the right to request flexible working, the Government also introduced automatic penalties for employers who underpay on the national minimum wage.
It has also introduced simpler dispute resolution rules to help workers and employers deal with workplace disputes.