We want to create a society where work and family complement one another. One whereemployers have the flexibility and certainty to recruit and retain the skilled labour they need todevelop their businesses. And one where employees no longer have to choose between arewarding career and a fulfilling home life.Freedom, fairness, and responsibility are central to the Coalition Government’s vision ofmodern workplaces. By applying these values through an effective, efficient labour-marketframework, the Government will give businesses the confidence they need to grow, which inturn will help encourage growth in the wider economy.The Government has recently published its proposals for the reform of employment tribunalsand encouraging alternative means for the early resolution of workplace disputes. Thesechanges will encourage employers and employees to resolve their differences in a responsible,fair and equitable manner. We want to build on this new approach to workplace relationships.We are now consulting on our plans for a culture of flexible, family-friendly employmentpractices. There are four elements - a system of flexible parental leave; a right for allemployees to request flexible working; changes to the Working Time Regulations affecting theinteraction of annual leave with sick leave and family-friendly leave; and measures toencourage equal pay for equal work between men and women. We recognise that in buildingour vision we will need to change the legislative framework - but we are also seeking to drive acultural change in our society.By increasing the flexibility of how parental leave can be taken, we will give parents thefreedom to make arrangements that suit their families and allow a balance between work andfamily commitments, while also meeting their responsibilities to their employers. By enablingemployers and employees to negotiate how leave is taken (e.g. part-time, full-time, discreteperiods), we are also increasing flexibility for business and getting the state out of the way ofdeciding arrangements that best suit any particular employer and employee. Sharing parentalleave in a balanced way between mothers and fathers will enable and encourage both parentsto take control of their childcare responsibilities; and will give them greater choice over theirfamily arrangements.Through the right to request flexible working, many parents and carers have already benefitedfrom flexibility in balancing their personal and working lives. Extending this right andencouraging flexible working generally will give all employees the opportunity to contributemore widely to society, whether as carers, disabled people, volunteers, or simply as citizens. Itwill also help employers to recruit, motivate and retain their workforces, and so build successfulbusinesses as well as increasing productivity. By responsibly negotiating working patterns thatsuit the needs of both parties, businesses can access a labour pool of experienced and skilledstaff, who in turn will be able to find work that fits around their other commitments.Just as employees’ pay should be fair, so too should their annual leave entitlement. Recentcourt cases have highlighted the interaction of annual leave with other forms of leave. Inmaking the necessary changes to the law, we have the opportunity to treat parents fairly byensuring that they do not lose out on annual leave by taking family-related leave. We need toclarify the law in this area to give employers legal certainty.