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NUJ welcomes call for flexible working

22 March 2016

The union has welcomed the women and equalities committee report’s focus on the right to request flexible working and its criticism of the "lack of effective government policy in many of the areas that contribute to the [gender] gap."

The parliamentary report states: 

"Until jobs can be measured and designed with output, rather than presenteeism, in mind, employers will continue to miss out on the considerable talents of those sections of the population unable, or unwilling, to work 9-5, 5 days a week, in the office." 
"All jobs should be available to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate an immediate and continuing business case against doing so. The EHRC should update its guidance to employers explaining legal requirements to offer flexible work; the benefits of flexible hiring; and the potential risk of indirect discrimination if employers do not consider whether newly advertised roles and existing positions could be worked flexibly. EHRC guidance should make clear that flexible working is not just about part-time working but can include working remotely, adjusted hours and job-sharing, with examples and case studies on good practice." 

The report also makes the following recommendations to government:

  • Make all jobs flexible by default from the outset unless there is a strong and continuing business case for them not to be
  • Bring in non-transferrable leave for fathers and second parents to allow men and women to share care more equally
  • Establish industrial strategies for low paid, highly feminised sectors to improve productivity and pay levels
  • Create a National Pathways to Work scheme that will support women to return to employment after time out of the labour market.

Michelle Stanistreet, NUJ general secretary, said:

"We welcome the recommendations of the women and equalities report and we’ll be watching how the government intend to respond and implement them. 
"Media organisations should be compelled to collect and publish employment data so that we can establish the extent of barriers to employment, gender segregation in work and the gender pay gap. The information should also include age, ethnicity, socio-economic status, sexuality and disability in terms of access to jobs, pay rates and employment status.
"It is clear to us that not all media employers are keen to embrace transparency or flexible working and if they are compelled to do so it will make media employment more accessible to parents and workers who have caring responsibilities.
"Flexible work should not be used as an opportunity to drive down standards and ramp up exploitation – it should be used as a way to update and modernise media workplace practices so they can meet the needs of their employees."

Access the parliamentary report online.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have also published research findings and a report on pregnancy and maternity related discrimination.

The EHRC report suggests that preganancy discrimination is wide-spread and has risen since 2005. The EHRC found 75 per cent of pregnant women and new mothers experience discrimination and 11 per cent lose their job as a result.

These research findings echo the views and experiences reported by NUJ members. We saw a spike in discrimination cases during the redundancy rounds after the credit crunch hit the media industry. The EHRC report backs up our experiences in representing NUJ members.

In a survey response to the union, one NUJ member said:

"My career went swimmingly well until I had children. My previous reputation and good record and achievements seemed to be wiped out during my maternity leave... I got no credit for the things I had done, and upon my return I had to build my reputation again. I was also repeatedly turned down for flexible working... a final request for flexible working was met with the offer of a much lower paid three-day a week temporary position covering someone else's maternity leave... there seemed to be an unofficial rule to have no part-timers in key positions."

Access the EHRC report online.

Tags: , flexible working, equality, parliament, gender, pay, pay gap, equal pay, women, pregnancy, mothers, discrimination, maternity