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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Flexible Working

The Government has announced new proposals to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees, to give greater choice and freedom to workers and businesses.

This will remove the cultural expectation that flexible working only has benefits for parents and carers, allowing individuals to manage their work alongside other commitments and improving the UK labour market by providing more diverse working patterns.

The Government will also remove the current statutory procedure for considering requests. Instead employers will have a duty to consider all requests in a reasonable manner. Businesses will have the flexibility to refuse requests on business grounds but the new laws are expected to bring benefits to employers as well.

In addition, the Government has announced a new system of flexible parental leave, which will allow parents to be able to choose how they share care of their child in the first year after birth. Employed mothers will still be entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave. However, working parents will be able to opt to share the leave.

The Government plan to legislate on this next year and will introduce the changes to flexible working in 2014 and to flexible parental leave in 2015.

An independent Task Force has been set up to help retain top talent within the communications industry and narrow the ever increasing gender diversity gap among senior women returning from maternity leave.

This is in direct response to a national survey conducted by Hanson Search and the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), which revealed a record 13.4% of senior employees think employers are out of touch with working mums. These employees plan to quit the industry in the next two years if employers continue to deny flexible provisions for those wishing to return from maternity leave, and maintain negative attitudes.

The survey, which interviewed 550 women and men working within communications, revealed:

  • 9.4% of employers felt they had serious reservations about hiring women aged between 30-40 years old fearing they would, at some point, fall pregnant,
  • 62% of employees feel that they will be discriminated against if they were to become pregnant, and
  • 49.3% of respondents have observed issues or problems among colleagues directly related to their return from maternity leave, such as difficulty with flexible working hours (64.6%), reduction in perceived status (59.9%) and negotiating part-time employment (53.2%).

Around 80% of interviewees believe that flexible working is beneficial to both the employer and employee in terms of time management and time efficiency, with 83.8% suggesting it would be good practice for organisations to implement such strategies.

The European Commission's latest annual report on gender equality has found that improving equality between women and men is essential to the EU's response to the current economic crisis.

"The economic case for getting more women into the workforce and more women into top jobs in the EU is overwhelming," said Viviane Reding, Vice-President of the European Commission in charge of Justice, Fundamental Rights and Citizenship. "We can only reach our economic and employment goals by making full use of all our human resources – both in the labour market as a whole and at the top. This is an essential part of our economic recovery plans."

In the labour market, the employment rate for women is 62.1%, compared to 75.1% for men, meaning the EU can only reach the overall Europe 2020 target rate of 75% employment with a strong commitment to gender equality.

Under the Europe 2020 strategy, the Commission has highlighted the need to promote a better work-life balance, in particular through adequate childcare, more access to flexible working arrangements, and by making sure tax and benefit systems do not penalise second earners. These can all help to make sure more women enter and remain in the labour market.

The gender pay gap has narrowed slightly across the EU. On average, women earn 16.4% less than men for every hour worked. The gender pay gap is caused by multiple factors such as labour market segregation and differences in educational choices. Slow progress in narrowing the gender gap in company boardrooms led the Commission to launch a public consultation on possible measures at EU level to address the problem, which risks holding back innovation and growth in Europe.

A recent report from work-life charity Working Families has revealed that many parents are facing impossible choices and discrimination at work.

The report, which was based on calls to the charity's free legal advice line, found that employers are less willing to consider a variety of working patterns, and are imposing changes which undermine parents’ ability to combine work and childcare.

The report also revealed that 8% of calls in 2011 concerned pregnancy and maternity discrimination, including callers dismissed when they told their employer they were pregnant, demoted on their return to work, and unfairly selected for redundancy.

Other callers reported that they could not afford to return to work after childbirth, because of high childcare and travel costs, while parents of disabled children could not find any affordable, appropriate childcare.

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