I recognise that we need to do as much as we can for working families. Flexible working can help people balance their work with responsibilities and can keep more people in long term employment and enable companies to keep hold of talented staff.
All employees with 26 weeks' continuous service have the right to request flexible working, and that is currently over 90 per cent of all employees. Employers can only refuse a request for flexible working if they have sound business reasons.
That said, I know that the Government is keen to ensure that existing 'right to request' legislation continues to have the desired effect and has committed to review its impact. Ministers will also consult on a duty on employers to consider whether a job can be done flexibly, and to make that clear when advertising.
Alongside this, the Government is looking to work with employers on a voluntary basis. It has established a Flexible Working Taskforce with representatives from organisations like Carers UK, WorkingFamilies and key business groups to promote wider understanding and implementation of flexible working practices.
More broadly, the UK has a range of parental and other leave entitlements, and more than £3.5 billion will be invested in early education this year, making childcare more accessible. The Government is also delivering the biggest upgrade to workers' rights in a generation through its Good Work Plan, to ensure that the UK labour market strikes the balance between flexibility and worker protections. This includes tackling the problems of one-sided flexibility, with proposals to provide a right to reasonable notice of working hours and to provide workers with compensation for shifts cancelled without reasonable notice.