CEHR question if maternity rights have harmed women’s career prospects

Nicola Brewer, Chief Executive of the Commission, has called for a legal step change in the rights afforded to fathers who wish to work flexibly. The comments were made during a speech to launch a major consultation

"Working Better” which will focus on flexible working.

Furthermore she controversially questioned whether the commission had made progress on women’s equality with the introduction of recent maternity legislation.

Speaking to the Times the Chief Executive questioned whether the progress made in women’s maternity rights had the unintended consequence of harming women’s career prospects.  She went on to question if the extension of the right to request flexible working for parents of children under the age of 16 would cause further damage. The article made the front page of the Times with the headline “Equality laws are now holding women back”’

Responding today to press comments Working Families Chief Executive Sarah Jackson said:

"The strong social case for the Government’s family policy means that extending the Right to Request must be the first action they take.  Families need time together and we know parents of older children want this right.

But we won’t address inequalities between fathers and mothers until it is as acceptable for men as for women to take time out or work flexibly.  If we want to break down gender stereotypes then we need to see much more widespread flexible working.  We know that flexible working works best – for business and for families – when it is made available to everyone. Flexible working is already available equally to men and women: we need to see greater take-up by men.  Rather than backtracking on an excellent policy of flexible working, the Government should go further – extol the benefits of flexible working and extend it to all”.

The Commission is partnering with Mumsnet.com and Dad.Info in an online consultation called Homefront to give families a platform to explain the issues they face balancing work and life. The Commission has begun its consultation and will produce a major report in the new year


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Asif Yusuf



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