All employees with 26 weeks’ continuous service have the right to request flexible working—that is over 90% of employees. Employers can refuse a request for flexible working only if they have sound business reasons, which are set out in statute. We have also established the flexible working taskforce to promote wider understanding of implementation of flexible working practices. Earlier this year, we launched a flexible working website specifically aimed at helping working mothers to find flexible jobs.
Women who work at Asda in Bishop Auckland and Spennymoor, and indeed across the whole country, are currently facing dismissal if they do not accept a new contract that would end the flexibility they currently have. In view of the helpful answer that the Minister has given, will she join me and the GMB union in calling on Asda to think again and have a proper negotiation?
I thank the hon. Lady for raising the concerns among her constituents with regard to the change of contract. As she well knows, that is a debate and a negotiation between the employer and the employees and their representatives. I am sure that the unions involved will be making their feelings clear. I advise those of her constituents who have any concerns about the practices that are happening within Asda to ring ACAS, which will be able to give them good, sound advice.