What is flexible working?
Flexible working practices, which include part-time working, compressed hours, job shares and working from home, are important in allowing women and men to combine paid work with their caring responsibilities.
Flexible working practices allow those with caring responsibilities to take up jobs more easily. Research has shown that mothers highlight the availability of flexible working as a key reason for being able or not able to work which also lessons the likelihood that women will experience a knock to their position and pay when they have children – a significant factor in the gender pay gap.
Why does it matter?
Women – in particular those with caring responsibilities – are more likely than men to take up measures such as part-time working, and they are also more likely to consider flexible working measures important and necessary to stay in work.
Current changes taking place within the labour market – namely the increasing number of single mothers being required to seek paid work and the increasing competition for quality part-time jobs from workers unable to find full-time employment – mean that it is more important than ever that the promotion of flexible jobs is improved to support women at work.
What do we want to see happen?
Fawcett wants to ensure that flexible working practices become the norm and that they are integrated into the way that Britain works, in order to support more women in the workplace. We also want to see more men applying for flexible working, in order to promote a healthier work-life balance and address gender norms which see women as the primary care givers.
We see the current 26-week qualifying period for requesting a right to flexible working as a barrier to women getting jobs. We want to see the right to request flexible working become a day one employment right.
Fawcett believes that the public sector should lead the way in promoting this change, providing an example of good practice for other sectors to follow. Fawcett also wants to see an improvement in the design and promotion of flexible, quality part-time jobs as we see this as an important way of opening up far more jobs to women and allowing women to stay in work.
Fawcett has previously worked in partnership with the Working Parents coalition, alongside Working Families (Chair), Maternity Action, TUC, The Fatherhood Institute, Mothers’ Union, Single Parent Action Network, CPAG, 4Children, Family and Parenting Institute, Family Lives, Grandparents Plus, and Gingerbread. The coalition campaigned collaboratively on workplace rights issues, highlighting the impact of such issues on women’s equality in the workplace.
We also lobbied on the Children and Families Bill, which proposed to extend the right to request flexible working to all employees.
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