All employees with 26 weeks of continuous service have the right to request flexible working; that accounts for over 90% of employees. We will consult on creating a duty for employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly and to make that clear when advertising. We have also established a flexible working taskforce with business groups and employee representatives to promote wider understanding and the implementation of flexible working practices.
Lots of women working in industries such as retail return from maternity leave to find that they are held back from progressing in their careers because their new caring responsibilities are interpreted as a lack of flexibility. What more can the Government do to challenge this short-sighted behaviour in a minority of employers?
I note my hon. Friend’s expertise in the retail sector before being elected to this House. The retail sector gender pay gap is 9.1%, compared with 17.9% overall, but the Government are not complacent and the sector continues to take steps to tackle gender inequality, including through the British Retail Consortium’s “Better Retail Better World”. This has involved more than 30 leading businesses committing to reducing inequality as part of the sector’s contribution to the sustainable development goals.