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Last Updated: Tuesday, 6 November 2007, 17:27 GMT
Flexible working rights extended
Mother and child
Parents of children under six can ask for flexible working.
Rights to ask for flexible working are to be extended to parents of older children, the government has said.

Currently parents can ask for flexible hours if their children are under six, or are disabled.

After the Queen's Speech Cabinet Office Minister Ed Miliband told the BBC the government would "up the age range to older children".

The Equal Opportunities Commission has said UK firms lag behind their European counterparts on flexible working.

In the Queen's Speech, the government promised to "bring forward proposals to help people achieve a better balance between work and family life".

Independent review

Asked what this might mean, Mr Miliband said: "We introduced the right to request flexible working for parents with children under six and that has been quite successful for those parents who've been able to request it.

"I think 90% of those who've requested it have been able to have it.

"We now want to extend that further up the age range to older children and we're going to look at how we do that working with business and others."

Later the government said it had asked Sainsbury's human resources director Imelda Walsh to lead an independent review into how the current right to request flexible working can be extended.

She will report back in spring 2008 and the review will be followed by a formal consultation.

Flexible working can include working from home, working part-time, compressed hours and flexi-time.

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