Jobcentre roles to be advertised flexibly, government confirms

All employers advertising roles in jobcentres will be asked if the position can be part time, job share or flexible, the government has confirmed.

Issuing its response to the Family Friendly Taskforce report, the government said employers need more help to realise the benefits of flexible working to their business.

Jobcentre Plus will implement IT changes which will mean that, every time a new vacancy comes into a jobcentre, the employer will be automatically asked if it can be delivered flexibly.

The move was broadly welcomed by employers groups when the taskforce report was first published last month, although they stressed it should not be enshrined in law.

Ministers will promote flexible working across the public sector while new Cabinet Office guidance will mean there will be a presumption that all jobs should be advertised as available for flexible or part-time working unless there is a good business case why this isn’t possible.

Lack of women on City boards

The lack of women on the boards of City institutions may have played a part in creating the banking crisis, according to a new report from the Treasury Committee.

The Women in the City report says the lack of diversity on the boards of many, if not most, of the major financial institutions may have heightened the problems of ‘group-think’ and made effective challenge and scrutiny of executive decisions less effective.

Witnesses to the committee suggested that greater female representation at senior levels would have made the banking crisis less likely.

John McFall, chairman of the committee, said: “We are not saying that had women been in charge, the crisis wouldn’t have happened, but we are highlighting the fact that women are poorly represented in the financial sector, particularly at senior level.

“Moreover, it can only surely be in the interests of financial institutions themselves to try to boost female representation at senior level and thus try to embed diversity and challenge more deeply into the culture of banking.”

Andrea Murray, group director of strategy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, welcomed the report’s findings.

“What is clear is that urgent action is needed to address both the barriers that women face in progressing their careers in the finance industry and the gender pay gap – which is larger than any other sector in the economy,” she said.

“Finance organisations need to take action to bring down arbitrary barriers and change practices that, intentionally or not, inhibit women’s success. As the committee has recognised, these actions include conducting annual equal pay audits and implementing flexible working practices that employees feel they can take advantage of without damaging their prospects.”

Work and pensions secretary Yvette Cooper pledged that the Department for Work and Pensions would lead the way in making job vacancies available on a part-time and flexible basis.

“There aren’t enough quality part-time or flexible jobs available to parents at the moment and I am determined that, starting with my own department, government works with business so that we can make sure there are enough opportunities out there for parents who want to work,” she said.

The government will also appoint a taskforce of business leaders and employers groups to champion the case for flexible working in the private sector, Cooper revealed.

The announcement came ahead of the publication of a ‘manifesto’ from campaign group Working Families, which calls on the next government to take a number of steps on flexible working:

  • All workers to have a right to request flexible working
  • All jobs to be offered on a flexible or part-time basis, unless there are sound business reasons why not
  • All fathers/partners to be entitled to paternity leave, regardless of length of service
  • A paid and independent right to extended leave for fathers/partners
  • Statutory maternity and paternity pay to be at minimum wage levels

Sarah Jackson, chief executive of Working Families, said: “Many of our demands are cost neutral or could even save money. Extending the right to request flexible working to all employees is a simple step forward that could have a profound impact on the UK’s working culture.

“More family-shaped jobs means more parents in work, and a chance for the next government to make progress in closing the gender pay gap and addressing child poverty.”

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