Flexible working is not enough for working families
Today the Government and the opposition have each launched new policy documents on supporting families. While both recognise the importance of flexible working as a means to allow parents to balance work and care, they also share a lack of wider discussion about the ways in which working lives impact on families.
The Conservatives would extend the right to request flexible work to all parents with children aged under 18 (it’s currently available until children are 16), and plan a new system of flexible parental leave (a version of which the Government are already implementing), while the Government plan to review the notice period for paternity leave (currently 15 days), ‘look at’ whether parents should be able to take parental leave when children are aged over 5 and ‘raise awarness’ of family friendly rights.
Neither make any mention of those parents who do not have the rights to request flexible working or take parental leave in the first place – those with ‘worker’ rather than ’employee’ employment status – nor of the wider issues of job security and quality for parents at work.
Today’s labour market statistics show that close to half a million temporary workers can’t find permanent jobs, evidence shows ever slowing wage growth for middle income families and those on casual, agency and dubious ‘self-employed’ contracts are still excluded from many employment rights – both parties could do with a more comprehensive look at the importance of secure and fairly paid jobs for enabling positive families lives.