By Richard Dunstan, Policy & Parliamentary Campaigns Officer, Working Families
Yesterday morning, I spent an enjoyable and highly productive two hours with a bunch of fellow policy wonks from member organisations of our Families & Work Group, throwing around policy ideas for what will eventually form the Working Families manifesto for the 2015 General Election. We agreed and refined some key policy asks, rejected a few others, and ate a lot of biscuits. OK, I ate a lot of biscuits.
With Group members from the TUC, the National Childbirth Trust, Maternity Action, Every Disabled Child Matters, the Mother’s Union, Gingerbread, the Family & Childcare Trust, and the union UNISON, there was a lot of expertise around the table. So I returned to my desk with a bundle of notes and a skeleton manifesto on ‘Families & Work’ already half-formed. Over the coming weeks, we will refine manifesto calls on rights to family leave, childcare, family-shaped jobs, good work (including fair pay), and access to justice.
A few hours and a lot of emails later, I came to an email from the TUC, with an embargoed copy of their report, out today, on women over 50 in the workplace. In early 2013, the TUC embarked on an innovative project called Age Immaterial, to “examine the issues facing [the some 4.2 million] women over 50 in the workplace and create an evidence base for policy proposals relating to this often overlooked group”. The new report is the culmination of 12 months of highly creative work. And, for a policy wonk busy working on a General Election manifesto – that is, a policy wonk very like me – it’s a veritable goldmine.
The report’s policy recommendations include:
- There should be a new statutory right to a period of ‘adjustment leave’ to cover bereavement, sudden changes to caring responsibilities, and other crisis situations. Tick!
- Grandparents should have a new statutory leave entitlement, similar to parental leave. Tick!
- Employers should strive to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis, with public sector employers taking a lead on this. Tick!
- More employers should adopt the Living Wage, and the National Minimum Wage should be “substantially increased”. Tick!
- Workers on zero-hours contracts, agency workers, freelancers and homeworkers should be entitled to the same floor of rights, including all family -friendly rights and legal protection against unfair dismissal. Tick!
- Enforcement of statutory rights for all vulnerable workers must be improved and, to ensure women who face discrimination in the workplace are able to seek justice, employment tribunal fees must be abolished. Tick!
I could go on – there are another 13 great policy recommendations. But you’d do better to just read the report. Do it, now.