Boost women’s employment with flexible working, says MP Tulip Siddiq

Labour’s Tulip Siddiq argued that flexible working should be a “right for all rather than a perk for the few” during a speech in the Commons.

She said flexible working legislation would help women who bear the brunt of childcare duties in a move that could boost the economy by billions.

Ms Siddiq made the comments as she introduced her ten minute rule bill that would give everyone a right to flexible working from the first day in the job and ensure employers advertise flexibility in job postings.

The shadow children’s minister, who has cross party support for her bill, told the Commons: “Overall, the impact of flexible working is most on women and that’s something we can’t deny.

“In this country the childcare responsibilities…do largely fall on women and the statistics show that if women can flexibly work and go back to their jobs, they’re more likely to not quit their jobs after they’ve had a child and to go back to their careers.

“The statistics show that men can flexibly work as well, women are twice as likely to excel in the career that they’re pursuing, if they have their husbands helping them with childcare responsibility and looking after children.”

Ms Siddiq pointed to research by McKinsey that has shown around £150 billion would be added to the UK economy by 2030 if women were able to achieve their full potential at work, which is reliant on widening flexible working.

She also cited information from the organisation Pregnant then Screwed that reported receiving twice the number of calls to its helpline from mothers who were experiencing flexible working issues between March 2020 and March 2021 as it had recorded in the previous year.

The group’s research also found that 71 per cent of flexible working requests were rejected in the first year of the pandemic, an increase from the 53 per cent rejected in the previous year.


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