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New flexible rights will be a 'burden to businesses'

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New flexible working rights will be a considerable ‘burden’ to British businesses, according to new research.

Plans to ensure flexible working arrangements for all parents of children aged up to 16 could be confirmed by law next year.

This will allow an extra 4.5 million workers to request unconventional working hours.

According to a recent survey by Alliance and Leicester, nearly two thirds (65%) of small-to-medium sized companies (SMEs) do not have enough staff to provide cover.

Many SMEs (54%) believe the new rules will prevent them from meeting service expectations and 29% are concerned about the financial impact the changes will have on business administration.

More than half (54%) of small business owners see the proposed flexible working legislation as unnecessary and a further 47% think it will have little improvement on people’s work-life balance.

Four out of five (86%) SMEs believe the changes are not realistic for small firms, and more than half (52%) of companies said they would have to factor in flexible working issues when taking on new staff.

The majority of employers (69%) think that the proposed changes are unfair on childless members of staff.

Steve Jennings, director of business banking at Alliance & Leicester, said: “Extending the flexible working right to another four and a half million parents is a big step and is likely to have a measurable impact on the UK’s small business population.

“Already under increased pressure to cut costs and increase productivity amid uncertain times, many small businesses are worried about how they will manage this added burden.

“Planning ahead is key for any business so it is important that companies prepare for the changes now,” he said.

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