Poll: Should employers be obliged to offer flexible working?

It could help plug skills gaps – or cause difficulties in the office.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

FOR SEVERAL YEARS, UK firms have been legally obliged to offer workers employed at least 26 weeks the opportunity to request flexible working.

Ireland South MEP Deirdre Clune has suggested that Ireland should adopt a similar model, which would require businesses to assess flexible working applications, meet with employees about the issue and provide an appeals process to failed applicants.

Flexible working – which gives employees greater freedom to choose how long, when and where they work – is often cited as a way to improve work-life balance. It’s also arguably a useful solution to the sky-high childcare costs that contribute to skills shortages.

However, there are a number of reasons why an employer might have reservations about offering flexible working: it can be difficult to organise meetings in a team-oriented workplace; it might require a change of management style; it could create difficulties for clients who keep traditional nine-to-five hours.

Business owners might also reject the idea of creating additional employment laws, which some argue are already cumbersome enough.

With that in mind, we’re asking Fora readers this week: Should employers be obliged to offer flexible working?