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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 13:08 GMT
Working parents welcome flexi-hours
Mothers and fathers make reliable workers, say parents
Working parents have welcomed new government legal standards that promise to allow thousands of people to request shorter or more flexible hours.

But they say this is just a first step in the direction of helping mothers and fathers with young children strike a balance between home and work.

This is a good idea because parents will be happier and work better

Sarah Welsh
Norfolk mother-of-five Sarah Welsh usually works part time three times a week for a local council recruiting childminders.

With her eldest now 22 and youngest nine-years-old, she has worked on and off in a variety of jobs since her children were small.

The 47-year-old's experience of flexi-working has proved successful over the years.

"My current employers have been sympathetic to my family needs.

"I work three days a week but I can work flexibly during the week," she said.

And she has successfully shared childcare arrangements with her husband.

But Mrs Welsh, who lives in Hemsby, Great Yarmouth, recognises the need to standardise the rights of parents to request flexi-time.

"At the moment the flexibility depends on where you work and what you do," she said.

And she said while Tuesday's announcement was a positive move, more needed to be done.

"This is a good idea because parents will be happier and work better.

Paid leave

"But parents still have the problem of having to take time off when their children are ill.

"We need to catch up with other European countries where workers get paid leave if they have to take time off for child care."

And she said although childcare is a shared parental responsibility, it is often viewed as a problem for mothers when a child falls ill.

She also fears that parents may find it difficult to find a job in the first place if employers do not look favourably on the idea of flexi-working, including job-sharing.

"Employers do seem to pay lip-service to the idea of job-sharing".

Instead she argued employers should look on parents as good job candidates.

"Parents offer an extra dimension with their good organisational skills and sense of responsibility," she said.

Ruth Lea, Institute of Directors
"We are concerned about these proposals"
See also:

09 Sep 01 | Business
Working mums work longer hours
29 Aug 01 | Business
UK business 'fails working mothers'
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