Progress on flexible working rights welcome and positive for all with caring responsibilities, says Nicholl

Alliance Early Years and Childcare spokesperson Kate Nicholl MLA has welcomed the positive response from the Economy Minister to her question about strengthening flexible working rights in Northern Ireland. 

Kate Nicholl Flexible working

Speaking as the Minister signalled his intent to consider revising the current flexible working arrangements in Northern Ireland as part of a wider employment rights bill, the South Belfast MLA commented: “I am delighted that the Minister has committed to considering my proposals for strengthening the rights of employees to request flexible working. This is something I have championed for some time and am very pleased to see progress so soon after the restoration of the Executive and Assembly. 


“The case for change is clear. With the lengthy processes currently involved in applying for flexible working and the potential for that application to be rejected, many people are potentially being excluded from the workforce, limiting our economic potential. 


“This is a particular concern for those with childcare and other caring responsibilities, as demonstrated by UNISION’s recent UK survey. It revealed that 36% of women working in public services across the UK have requested flexible working for childcare reasons, but 30% are then denied it.  


“Changes to legislation to create quicker, smoother, and more employee-focused processes for requesting flexible working could enhance the inclusiveness and productivity of our economy, and give more carers and parents the opportunity to join or re-join the workforce with the flexibility that they require. 


“I will continue to drive this change and look forward to scrutinising and developing the legislation when it comes before the Assembly.”