MPs call for flexible working as day one right

Committee of MPs looked at government’s pandemic response and is scathing about impact on gender equality

Flexible Working


A committee of MPs has called for flexible working to be easier for working parents. And they want folk with caring responsibilities who are looking for work to be eligible for more childcare support.

The Women and Equalities Committee, which previously published a report on fathers and the workplace, has warned that the government’s pandemic response has not been gender equal.

They have just published a new report into the Covid relief measures. They found the government response ‘risked turning the clock back’ on gender equality. 


Committee members, who come from all parties in Westminster, criticised the government for not making it clear that workers with caring responsibilities could ask to be furloughed. However recent research has found the majority who do make such a request are turned down.

With so many more parents working from home and most also taking on homeschooling the committee recommended the right to request flexible working becomes a day one right. A head of steam is building behind that measure. The MPs suggestion comes just a week after the CIPD launched a campaign calling for the same.

The committee’s report includes over 20 recommendations. They also call for the current Universal Credit uplift of £20 per week to remain. And they want more protection from redundancy for pregnant women. 

Gender pay gap reporting ought to restart this year and they call on Equalities Minister Liz Truss, who canned gender pay gap reporting last year as Covid hit, to be more vocal in getting other departments to consider the equalities impact of policies.

Culture shift

In response the government said it had spent over £200bn on job support schemes. “Throughout the pandemic this government has done whatever it takes to protect lives and livelihoods, and will continue to do so,” a spokesperson said.

“Covid-19 is prompting a culture shift with more people than ever before working flexibly, and the government wants to harness that as we recover. By doing so, we could see more equal sharing of care work by parents, and more flexibility from employers, enabling us to unleash the potential of everyone across the country.”

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