Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Inflexible benefits

According to a new Timewise report, Part-Time Work: The Exclusion Zone?, many of those working flexible hours - an increasing number of us - find that there's a significant cost to not doing a standard nine-to-five. There are reduced opportunities to network, attend training to develop skills and knowledge, and build social rapport within teams, and an acceptance that the trade-off for flexibility should be more limited career prospects.

The BBC's piece on the report's findings doesn't spell it out, but this form of workplace discrimination - "flexism" - affects women disproportionately because it is they who most often make changes to their working pattern after starting a family. The difference between full-time and part-time workers is just another disparity that needs to be erased before a measure of equality can be achieved in the workplace.

Of course, it also needs to become equally common for men and women to request (and be granted) flexible working hours in the first place, and equally common for men and women to request (and be granted) extended parental leave. At present, whether they admit it or not, employers are able to choose a man over a woman on the grounds that she is more likely to be off for the best part of a year on parental leave and then more likely to return on reduced hours.

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