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The University of Southampton
Public Policy|Southampton

Employers, the right to request and older workers

Flexible working

Project Outline

In 2014 the right to request flexible working was extended in the UK, making it a universal right, and one which older workers with changing needs around care, health, and seeking to manage their retirement might make particular use of.  We conducted research with policy makers as well as with employers in two case study organisation in order to explore the challenges that managers have been facing in the early years of managing this new formalised process of applying for flexible work.  Key challenges uncovered by the research have been: uneven work practices around flexible working; pockets of managerial resistance; employer support needs around job redesign; and that a business rationale in decision making can disadvantage the very workers who stand to gain most from flexible working.  In the contest of the broader national policy agendas around extending working lives and promoting active ageing, which flexible work complements, the research raises a number of unresolved policy issues.

Public Policy have supported this project in convening a policy roundtable, which is being sponsored and chaired by Debbie Abrahams MP, Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions at Portcullis House in April 2017.  This draws together expert participants and decision makers from government, business, trade unions and the charitable sector, to discuss the impact of the legislation upon workplace policy and practices, and to reflect on future policy challenges and solutions.

Meet the project team

Dr Jane Parry is a Lecturer in Gerontology within Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology at the University of Southampton.

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