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Flexible working: Removing the fear factor

Working mums and dads still fear that asking for flexible working hours will damage their career prospects. A recent survey by pressure group My Family Care said more than half (54%) were frightened to ask, suggesting that the battle for flexible working has yet to be won.

Plans for more flexible free childcare and extending the rights of parents with children aged up to 16 have been hailed as milestones in the drive for a more family-friendly workplace. Yet many parents are reluctant to ask for flexible working, and instead phone in sick when child care arrangements break down.

This is a cause of rising absenteeism and falling productivity at a time when businesses more than ever need to remain competitive. Meanwhile, a report by think tank Demos has said flexible working is "essential" to deal with changes in the UK population and ensure economic growth, messages backed by Business Secretary Vince Cable.

Analysts say the challenge is to change attitudes to flexible working, allow working parents to take full advantage of the law and persuade employers that allowing flexible working can make their businesses stronger.

Acas provides support for employers through training in the implementation of family-friendly work practices and a range of useful resources including guidance on all aspects of flexible working.

Find out more about Acas training and business solutions.

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