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Flexible Working

Volume 408: debated on Tuesday 1 July 2003

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To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what plans there are to monitor and record the number of workers (a) requesting and (b) being granted flexible working in (i) central Government, (ii) local government, (iii) the public sector and (iv) the private sector; and if she will make a statement. [122224]

We are actively promoting flexible working policies across the workplace through the Government's Work-Life Balance Campaign, which aims to encourage best practice by demonstrating the benefits to both employers and employees in all sectors and size of business. To support and help speed up the spread of best practice, on 6 April 2003 we introduced new flexible working legislation, to ensure that employees with children under six or disabled children under 18 will only have their requests for flexible working turned down where there are valid business reasons.We are committed to commence a review of this legislation in three years' time, and as a baseline for this, we have already carried out two major surveys covering employers and employees, giving a clear picture of the current levels of flexible working in both public and private sectors. We are currently developing a detailed monitoring strategy for the next three years and are working closely with key employer and employee stakeholders. As part of this strategy we will be repeating the two baseline surveys in 2005.For further evidence on the numbers of people working flexibly, disaggregated into the public and private sectors, we are repeating the large scale Workplace Employment Relations Survey in 2004, and asking specific questions on flexible working to both employers and employees. The spring and autumn modules of the quarterly Labour Force Survey also provide some information on flexible working practices.We will be working with other Government Departments to gain information on how the new legislation is being implemented and the levels of take up across central Government. We are also establishing links with the Employers' Organisation for Local Government (EO) and the Local Government Association (LGA) in order to gather information specifically relating to flexible working practices within local government.