Women 'denied' right to work from home

Sexism is hindering the UK’s uptake of smarter working practices, in light of claims working mums are the most likely group of Britons to be denied the chance to work from home.

A fresh probe into the adoption of flexible work practices says two thirds of mothers – 10 per cent more than men – have had an employer reject their request to work at home.

Commissioned by IT provider WebEx, the survey by YouGov found that half of women with children feel they are battling against a culture of rigid attitudes towards working hours.

Obtained by The Independent, the findings are being used by campaigners to show a huge gender gap exists in the workplace, which penalizes women who want children and a career.

One lobbyist that strives for a better work-life balance for parents of both sexes believes employers are failing in their legal duties to working parents.

Jonathan Swan, head of policy and research at Working Families, reportedly said, “Women who opt for a flexible life plan are seen as less committed. Likewise, men are expected to be hands-on fathers and fit in to a ‘long hours’ culture.”

Under European Union law, workers with children aged under six-years-old can ask for flexible hours for their employer’s ‘serious consideration.’ However the study found almost two-thirds of parents are missing out because they are ignorant of the rights, which have been in force since April 2003.

According to a 2004 study by the Equal Opportunities Commission, men dominate home-based working, with 884,000 saying they ‘mainly’ work from home, compared to just 347,000 women.

An early probe, highlighted by the EOC, adds that almost nine out of 10 people who perform manual work from home are women, while the over-50s dominate admin and secretarial work.

However the EOC’s own analysis said women in professional roles are increasingly working from home, with 69 per cent of females assigned as managers, senior professionals or technicians.

Almost three quarters of men who work from home fit into the same category of professional occupations, the 2004 study said.

When asked, home-workers of both sexes overwhelmingly agreed that they couldn’t work from home without a telephone or computer.


19th June 2006

Related News

Latest News