Women losing jobs twice as fast as men  

Posted by: shilpz in , ,

THE government is becoming increasingly alarmed that many more women are losing their jobs than men as the recession bites. It fears they could be out of the workforce “for a generation”.

A group of senior women ministers have warned Gordon Brown that the recession may tarnish Labour’s record on equal rights.

There is mounting alarm over recent figures suggesting twice as many women are being made redundant as men in some parts of the country.

Ministers fear some of those being laid off are victims of discrimination by bosses seeking to avoid costs associated with the introduction of longer maternity leave and new flexible working rights.

The problem has been highlighted at recent meetings of Gordon Brown’s recession “war cabinet”, the National Economic Council, with women ministers pressing for new measures to protect women.

Among the moves planned are:

- An inquiry by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) into sex discrimination in the finance sector.

- New training for women to help them compete for jobs.

- Monitoring companies to check women are not being unfairly targeted.

In a sign of how seriously the issue is being taken, Brown has agreed to dedicate a session of the G20 meeting of the world’s economic powers to the impact of the recession on women. It will be the first time the G20 has held formal talks about the role of women in the economy.

Harriet Harman, the women’s minister, said: “There is a major fear about women being targeted by their employers during the downturn. This is unlawful.” Another senior minister said women could be set back for “a generation”.

The latest official employment statistics show that the number of women in full-time work fell by 53,000 in the last quarter, compared with a fall of 36,000 for men. It means women are losing full-time jobs at twice the rate of men, because men significantly outnumber women in the workplace.

Women MPs are disgruntled that so much emphasis is being placed on helping male-dominated industries, such as finance and motor manufacturing, when many jobs are being lost in “soft” sectors dominated by women, such as retail and catering.

The campaign to shield women from unfair job losses is being led by Harman and Vera Baird, the solicitor-general, and involves several Whitehall departments.

Baird is examining whether the Equality Bill, expected to be published at the end of March, could be accompanied by a package of nonstatutory measures designed to address new discrimination issues exposed by the recession.

The government is to work with the EHRC to monitor businesses for evidence of discrimination over redundancies. Companies found to have unjustifiable discrepancies between male and female redundancy rates are being warned they face court.

Harman said: “It is unlawful to make women who work part-time redundant ahead of those who work full-time; and it is unlawful to sack women on maternity leave. Firms should be in no doubt that it is discriminatory and we will not accept it.”

Trevor Phillips, the chairman of the EHRC , will announce a formal investigation within the next few days.

However, the Federation of Small Businesses insisted that there was “no evidence” of a problem and warned the government that any “premature” measures could lead to a backlash.

“This preemptive strike in an area where there is no danger could undo the goodwill businesses have shown so far over the Equality Bill.”

The chickens are coming home to roost. Or to put it another way, you can only live in economic cloud cuckooland for so long before reality bites you hard in the ass. The fact is that legislation has made it both expensive and inconvenient for businesses, large and small, to hire women.
Billy Barnett, HK,
Last hired, first layed off....has been , will be.....The UK has turned into a 5th World country......sad,sad........
MrTim, san marcos, U S of A
U run a small company and a woman on maternity leave plus associated rights would finish off my company which is already on the edge (and thats with me taking no salary). Labour needs to get into the real world not that of index linked pensions.
David, worthing, uk

This entry was posted on Sunday, January 25, 2009 and is filed under , , . You can leave a response and follow any responses to this entry through the Subscribe to: Post Comments (Atom) .


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