The lifestyle enjoyed by the UK’s PAYE umbrella contractors is set to become much more widespread, thanks to the government’s push to establish greater access to flexible working arrangements by 2015.

The coalition is inviting responses to its Modern Workplaces consultation, and has already received a number of replies from prominent organisations. The Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) maintains in its response that flexible working arrangements must be available to all, a principle that it believes has to be adhered to if the UK is to avoid creating a two-tier workforce.

More employers are appreciating the benefits of allowing their staff to achieve individually tailored work-life balances, which will already be familiar to most contractors working through umbrella companies. CIPD spokesman Mike Emmott maintains that growing numbers of employers are willing to consider requests for flexible working from any staff member, not just parents and carers.

However, the organisation is concerned about the government’s wish to exempt new start-ups and micro-businesses from its proposals. The CIPD believes that such exclusions will dissuade small enterprises from expanding and will risk producing a two-tier workforce. CIPD members were urged by Mr Emmott to support the government’s plans for shared parental leave, which he considers the only way to shift the existing division of caring responsibilities toward greater equality.

For its part, the REC argues in its response that flexible working arrangements should apply to temporary roles, which are increasing in popularity, and not be exclusively reserved for permanent jobs. Gillian Econopouly, the Head of Policy at the REC, also urged the government to keep the burden of regulations low in its quest to increase flexibility.

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