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Flexible Working

Volume 742: debated on Monday 18 December 2023

15. Whether he has made an assessment of the role of flexible working arrangements in supporting people to take up employment. (900714)

Flexible working can play an important role in supporting people to start, stay in and succeed in work, and for businesses to grow. I have already seen at first hand examples of good employers offering tailored roles or changed hours to support workers, particularly parents, who have caring responsibilities. Flexibility has made a difference and drives success for all.

As the Minister mentioned, the hospital industry—especially in coastal constituencies such as mine—is suffering disproportionately from high vacancy levels exacerbated by covid and the shift in working patterns. What more can the Government do to encourage smarter working and job sharing? For example, students and younger people could work some of the later and weekend hours—the less social hours—sharing with parents with family responsibilities, who could work more regular hours during the daytime.

The UK hospitality industry does a fantastic job, particularly at this time of the year when it is helping us to enjoy the festive season. I am providing help and collaboration by delivering pilot schemes across the industry. In particular, we are developing a more standardised approach to training, which includes a proposal to award a hospitality skills passport. We need to do all we can with workers to build confidence and the right skills. I am interested by my hon. Friend’s idea of helping employers to refocus where the needs are, and I shall be happy to work with him, because hospitality offers a great career and transferable skills.