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Minister calls for more part-time work

And government may legislate on it

Work and Pensions Secretary Yvette Cooper has called for more part-time working jobs to be available for working parents.  In an interview with the Observer newspaper, Cooper says that employers should make more jobs available on a part-time or job-share basis, and that Jobcentres will be encouraged to make employers advertise vacancies in this way.

And, according to the Observer, the government is considering the prospect of new legislation to extend the flexible work legislation to apply to future, as well as present, employers.

This could allow, for example, a parent applying for a new job to ask the prospective employer to alter the hours of the work to fit in with childcare commitments.

Cooper, a mother-of-three, said more "good quality part-time jobs" were needed both for lone parents expected to seek work under the government's planned welfare reforms and more broadly for many other working parents.

The best employers were already advertising vacancies as potentially either full or part-time, she said, and more could be asked if they would consider alternative ways of filling supposedly full-time vacancies. "The next stage of this, for those employers still not thinking about part-time work or work that fits round school hours, is actually showing people that it's much easier than you think. We have already got good examples at local level of where this is being done."

The aim of these proposals is to provide more work opportunities for working families, especially at a time when the government is trying to encourage more people off benefits and into work.

October 2009

Flexibility comment

We broadly welcome this tentative move.  It has always been a weakness of the flexible working legislation that it is no help whatsoever to people who are not already in work.

The weakness of the proposal is the same as for the legislation - being too parent-focused, and ignoring the other two thirds of the workforce who may have equally valid reasons for wanting to work flexibly.

We also take heart from the fact that the government likes to 'fly a kite' like this with some informal comments before initiating change.  There's clearly something brewing.




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