I welcome the hon. Lady to the House and congratulate her on her election. The coalition agreement commits the Government to extending the right to request flexible working to all employees. We will be consulting businesses and listening to their views, and we hope to bring proposals to the House later in the year.
Thank you very much for that answer, and I am pleased to welcome all of you to the team. It is so nice to have you in this House.
I want to ask about flexible working arrangements in particular. I know from my own experience how valuable it can be to an employer to have employees on flexible working arrangements, but I realise that small businesses are very concerned about the potential impact of extending this regulation and I wondered what steps the team will take to consult on the extension of flexible working arrangements.
Our commitment is for extensive consultation. I want to make it clear that my door is open to all business organisations and to the hon. Lady and hon. Members of the House. We will listen to those views and take them on board, but there is increasing evidence that flexible working arrangements are embraced by employers and employees and are welcomed in many businesses across the country.
Many employers regard flexible working as involving the hiring of temporary staff—agency workers and so on. Will the Minister put it on the record today once and for all that there is no truth whatever in the reports in the Financial Times that his Government—the coalition—are planning to scrap protections for agency workers, for temporary workers, which give them rights to equal pay after 12 weeks?