Flexible hours boost return to work option

New flexible working rules introduced by the trade and industry secretary last week could boost recruitment and retention of...

New flexible working rules introduced by the trade and industry secretary last week could boost recruitment and retention of women in IT.

From April 2003 parents will have the right to ask for flexible working hours. Employers expect 350,000 people per year to benefit from flexible working. Employer Links, a voluntary scheme based in Cambridgeshire, promotes family-friendly policies to IT organisations and believes this can make a difference to staff retention and encouraging women to return to work after maternity leave.

Kate Warboys, work-life balance consultant for the organisation, said, "Under the new regulations employers will have to make accommodations for the rights of parents, but forward-thinking firms are already reaping the benefits of adopting a proactive approach to flexible working."

She said flexible working contributes to the retention and recruitment of a skilled work force and increases motivation and loyalty. It is predominantly women who take career breaks to care for children and many find it difficult keeping their IT skills up-to-date. In the face of pressure from the skills shortage this legislation offers an opportunity to hold on to valuable staff, she said.

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