Social Democratic and Labour Party South Belfast MP Claire Hanna is co-sponsoring a Bill being presented this week in Parliament that would give workers the right to request flexible working from the first day of employment, including working from home, part-time working and flexible hours.
Claire Hanna said: “The pandemic has changed the way we all work and has shone light on the advantages of a more flexible approach to working both for employers and employees. We have seen over the past year how quickly many businesses and workers have been able to adapt to working from home and how this has not only had benefits for productivity but importantly has given people a better work-life balance.
“Modern working practices need to be made more inclusive for parents and those with caring responsibilities and this means ensuring that there is an availability of good quality jobs offered on a more flexible and part-time basis. In the past people, and especially working mothers, have made the decision not to request flexible working as they believe that this would be viewed negatively by their employer or limit opportunities.
“The pandemic has provided businesses with an opportunity to rethink their approach to working patterns and this could help to foster equality and inclusion in the workplace whilst at the same time improve employee well-being and improve staff retention.
“Like many important issues, the government have dragged their feet on employment legislation, but the time is right now to ensure that flexible working becomes the default rather than the exception.