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The case for work-life balance Julie Mellor Chair Equal Opportunities Commission CWU, 14 December 2005.

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Presentation on theme: "The case for work-life balance Julie Mellor Chair Equal Opportunities Commission CWU, 14 December 2005."— Presentation transcript:

1 The case for work-life balance Julie Mellor Chair Equal Opportunities Commission CWU, 14 December 2005

2 The case for change 24/7 economy Changing lives and demographic changes Society wide issue not a personal problem An opportunity for business, society and the economy to work more effectively A better quality of life for families

3 Why it matters All of us will be a parent, carer or someone who needs care 12 m parents and 6 m carers in the UK 301,00 people become carers each year Falling birth rate, increasing life expectancy Fewer people to provide unpaid care

4 What people are telling us Almost 4 in 10 mothers and over 1 in 10 fathers have left a job or been unable to take a job because of their parenting responsibilities One third of parents were stressed about finding enough time to spend with their children Half of carers were stressed about finding enough time to care

5 What are people not getting? Flexible work - only parents with children under 6 or disabled child under 18 Universal affordable accessible childcare Limited availability of part-time and flexible work that pays well Affordable care services for the elderly Access to advice and information services – especially for carers of disabled/elderly

6 Pregnancy discrimination In Sept 2003 the EOC launched an investigation into discrimination against new and expectant mothers in the workplace Every year in England and Wales over 1,000 women take legal action against their employer claiming they were sacked because of their pregnancy Thousands of women contact the EOC every year to talk about their maternity and pregnancy rights at work

7 Problems faced during pregnancy and on return to work One quarter of women who took legal action were dismissed within hours or days of telling their employer they were pregnant Less than one in three receive a health and safety risk assessment One in five women return to a lower grade or level of job 20% of women face dismissal or financial loss as a result of their pregnancy

8 Flexible working Flexible working allows parents and carers to balance their careers and home lives but in reality those people who want to work flexibly: –May not get the flexibility they need –End up in poorly paid part-time jobs –Employed at junior levels with no or poor career prospects Limited eligibility to the right to request Women working part-time earn 40% less per hour than men

9 Productivity case The vast majority of employers with flexible working practices have found that it is –Cost effective –Gives them a competitive edge, –Increases staff retention –Reduces costs

10 Benefits to business -opportunities for increasing productivity - Best employers achieve a 90% return rate after maternity leave Flexible working practices increases staff retention and reduces costs A 5% reduction in turnover can result in an increase in profits between 30%-85% 90% of employers find flexible working cost effective 39% think their performance outstrips their competitors

11 Lack of support for employers Better advice needed to help employers manage flexibility and pregnancy related issues Legislation too complex – needs to be streamlined Cost of maternity has disproportionate impact on SME’s Childcare and care services infrastructure

12 What one thing would make a difference ? Parents –Flexible working (44%) –Financial support (30%) –Childcare (18%) Carers –Services (50%) –Financial support (27%) –Flexible working (13%)

13 National Family Strategy A ‘Beveridge plan’ for the 21 st Century Joined up services and support from cradle to the grave: –Quality childcare for pre-school & school-age –Comprehensive care infrastructure for disabled person and their carer –Choice, financial support and flexibility in managing work and care roles

14 Cradle to the grave support When a child is born –Improved parental rights –Reliable and affordable childcare As a child grows older - –Wrap around care - extended schools –The right to request flexible working open to all When you need to care for a disabled person –Better care services –Support to balance work and caring And at retirement –Entitlement to an adequate pension

15 EOC parents and carers coalition A unique coalition of organisation 42 members – parents, carers, disability age organisation, unions & employers Challenging political parties to put carers and parents at the top of their agenda Can we afford not to care: –Good for Britain –Value for money

16 A win-win agenda Measures to help parents and carers often help employers – its easier to employ parents & carers if support services are available Most parents and carers want choices – but they won’t all choose the same things Helping people to make or keep links with paid work helps to avoid poverty

17 Winner at the ballot box 87% of parents think the Government should help more with childcare costs 90% of people think Carer’s Allowance should be increased 89% of parents and carers support the right for all parents and carers to ask their employer for flexible working

18 How can trade unions help? Campaigning - USDAW Raising awareness and giving support to its members Convincing employers of the business benefits of supporting carers and parents Negotiating for more help Work with employers to ensure that support is given to all those who need it – to enable parents and carers to be able to truly balance their lives Political influencing

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