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To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, what steps he is taking to provide (a) assistance and (b) guidance for employers to help them provide flexible and high quality part-time work for women with young children; and if he will make a statement.
Flexible working is central to how the Coalition Government sees employment in the future. From 30 June this year, following a full consultation with businesses on how best to do so, we extended the right to request flexible working to all employees.
The Government has also made it easier for employers to consider requests for flexible working by replacing the previous statutory process for considering requests with a duty on employers to consider requests in a ‘reasonable manner’. To support this Acas has published a statutory Code to help businesses understand how to handle requests. Further information is available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1616.
To support the creation of more high quality part-time jobs, we are working to encourage cultural change in flexible working, especially to encourage employers to think about flexible working when they recruit new employees. For example, the Government convened an employer-led group to make practical recommendations on how flexible working can be beneficial and how it can be built into employer’s recruitment. Following the recommendations of this group we are encouraging the use of the strapline “Happy to Talk Flexible Working” by employers when they advert jobs.
Furthermore, on 10 June, my Rt. Hon. Friend the Minister of State for Pensions and my Hon. Friend the Member for Cardiff Central (Jenny Willott) led a conference on flexible working for employers. The conference explained the benefits of flexible working and providing practical tips on getting it working within individual workplaces, including a practical session on successfully designing part-time jobs.
In addition, to promote part-time work more generally, BIS, in partnership with the Business is Great campaign, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) and PwC, sponsored a new initiative launched by Timewise in search of the UK’s most flexible small businesses that offer flexible work options to employees. The competition ran from 16 October to 24 November. The winner will be announced publicly by Friday 20 March 2015. The Government is also promoting flexible working and part-time working as part of the GREAT campaign to target business press. More detail on the GREAT campaign here: http://www.greatbusiness.gov.uk/flexibleworking/.
Finally, Acas have produced guidance booklets for employers and employees on how to manage flexible working and a work-life balance. Further information is available from: http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=1283.