HC Deb 10 July 2003 vol 408 c888W
Mr. Bellingham

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what representations she has received on the operation of the law relating to flexible working hours, with special reference to claims against employers on procedural grounds where the flexible working hours contract has been granted. [123564]

Mr. Sutcliffe

My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry has received no representations on the operation of the new flexible working law which came into effect on 6 April this year. We are committed to commence a review of the impact of the law in three years' time, and in collaboration with key stakeholders, we are currently putting in place a monitoring strategy for gathering ongoing evidence as to how the new law is working in practice.

We understand that the Acas Arbitration Scheme conciliators have been approached for advice on two occasions, the first of which led to the withdrawal of the claim by the employee and the second identified that no breach of procedure had taken place. One claim for unfair dismissal relating to the flexible working legislation was registered with the Employment Tribunal Service in May and this is currently in the initial stage of the process.

Help and advice is available to employers as well as employees. Those who want to speak to an adviser about any aspect of the law, including practical advice on how to apply the law can call the Acas helpline on 08457 47 47 47. Advisers have been specifically trained on the working parents laws. Detailed guidance, including forms based on best practice, is also available on our website at www.dti.gov.uk/workingparents and also in hard copy. This emphasises that it is in both parties' interests to seek to resolve disputes as far as possible within the workplace and that employment tribunals should be treated as a last resort.