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Flexible Working

Volume 406: debated on Monday 9 June 2003

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To ask the Minister for Women what steps she is taking to promote flexible working for women. [111037]

The Government's Work-Life Balance Campaign actively encourages businesses to follow best practice and offer flexible working opportunities. The Government recently launched the 5th round of the Work Life Balance Challenge Fund, inviting employers to apply by 31 July 2003 for consultancy support to introduce new working arrangements, including flexible working, within their organisations.On 6 April 2003 the Government introduced a new flexible working law providing mothers and fathers of children under six or disabled children under 18 with the right to apply for flexible working, and placing a duty on employers to consider such requests seriously.To promote the new right, the Government launched awareness-raising activity last Autumn. We ran a six-week advertising campaign in the national press prior to the new law coming into force, and we briefed representatives of the consumer and life-style media so that they could include articles in their publications, such as parenting magazines.We have also produced extensive guidance both on the internet at www.dti.gov.uk/workingparents and in hard copy. This includes a set of forms based on best-practice, case studies and user-friendly "How to …" tips. Guidance is also available in an interactive form at www.tiger.gov.uk and helpline support is being provided by AC AS on 08457 474747.