The 'one coffee' guide to Welsh Government's inquiry into parenting and work
Maybe you’ve come across the report ‘Work it out: parenting and work in Wales’ and follow up list of 34 responses from AMs.
You’ve a vested interest as a parent, and as such likely to also have been knee deep in nappy changes, halving grapes and wiping snotty noses to have the time to read it.
Lucky for you it’s how I rock ‘n’ roll nowadays so I’ve put together a quick guide for you!
A Government inquiry is basically a chance for experts, (aka organisations and people with real life experience) to provide the Government with information on a particular topic, so that they can make better informed decisions.
This one was discussing pregnancy and maternity discrimination, which sadly, I have experienced. I went along with Mother Pukka, the Children’s Commissioner for Wales, Trade Unions and charities like Chwarae Teg to tell my story and explain what should be put into action to ensure all parents can equally share parenting and work.
Making workplaces more equal and flexible
The gender pay gap grows from 10% to 30% when a woman has a child, whilst on average a dad’s wage increases when he becomes a parent. Women struggle to obtain flexible hours, and when their requests are turned down they are often forced to quit their jobs.
Flexible working is a key factor in ending the gender pay gap; Welsh Government see this and have accepted that they need to take action to bring Wales up the league from the lowest levels of flexibility on offer across the UK.
Hopefully you were more informed that me. When I became a parent I was shocked that the cost of childcare was the biggest outgoing for families, and that there’s no support until your child hits the golden age of 3.
Many of us said government support for childcare needs to start from the point when parental leave comes to an end, and that the ’30 hours’ childcare plan is unfair, tricky to navigate and being rolled out too slowly.
Improving maternal employment rates
I’ve already touched on this as its pivotal to the whole system. Parents need to balance work and family life; flexible working needs to become the norm and childcare needs to be subsidised and available across urban and rural areas.
If you’re thinking of starting a family check out the maternal employment rates as well as the gender pay gap of prospective employers… if you’re brave enough. These stats must be published in order to push more businesses to do better when it comes to keeping mums in the workplace.
We are in the age of equality, telling our daughters they can be anything and our sons they can love babies… yet the workplace still punishes women for being of ‘childbearing’ age. It tells parents they can have Shared Parental Leave whilst giving mums 6 weeks at 90% of their salary whilst dads can only get a maximum £145 a week.
Gender roles in society are changing and Welsh Government would like businesses to catch up too. they are going to start with Business Wales providing support in gender neutral recruitment and managing flexible working requests. We are going to push Welsh Government to provide funding for returners (90% of whom are women) to get back into work.
This ball is out of Welsh Government’s court as they don’t have powers to change law such as the 12 week limit to put in a tribunal claim. Who could start a discrimination battle with their employer when they are just learning how to wrestle a baby into a sleepsuit whilst barely getting any shut-eye themselves?
I know I couldn’t have done it and I’m a strong woman with a background in fighting Trade Union employment disputes. We want the time limit to bring a maternity discrimination case raised to at least 6 months, and so do Welsh Government.
UK Government have the power to balance the playing field by providing the right to request flexible working from day 1 of a job. That’s the simple way to end the needle in a haystack that is finding a decent part-time or flexible job. Join A Mother’s Place in Wales and Mother Pukka in England in our crusade for #flexappeal.
What happens now?
That’s the basics guys and gals. I’ve blended in the gist of the Equality, Local Government and Communities Committee (@SeneddELGCC) along with some of the key recommendations that were accepted by Welsh Government Minsters.
You can catch myself and Mother Pukka discussing the issues parents shared with us on Facebook Live at 5.30pm Thursday the 4th of October. I will also drop another quick guide to that over the weekend sometime.