Mothers are being forced into low-paid jobs because employers are not being flexible enough in their approach to work according to a new book – reports The Observer [9.9.07].
The book, Collapsing Careers by Joanna Grigg, claims that 30,000 women in the UK are sacked, made redundant or leave their jobs because they are discriminated against during pregnancy. But she also points out that, while younger women may think things are getting better and employers are offering flexible working options, many employers have not yet woken up to the potential loss of talent they face if they don’t provide part-time and homeworking solutions. As evidence for her case, Grigg highlights the inequalities in earnings between men and women. She says that the wage gap between men and women is 17% for full-time workers and 38% for part-timers – the largest in Europe. But she adds that women don’t help themselves because they tend to choose low-paid careers despite doing better at school than boys and they are less likely to negotiate good pay rises than men.
Other news this week:
The government is asking parents not to take their children out of school during term-time after figures showed one in 10 days missed from school are due to holidays.
Most of the these were authorised by schools, but Kevin Brennan, the children’s minister, said even "a couple of days" could be detrimental to children’s education. However, he acknowledged that travel companies had a "role to play" in keeping prices down in the holidays.
This is the first year schools have had to report the reasons for children’s absence. Figures released last week show that more than 5.4 million school days were taken as holidays in autumn 2006 and spring 2007 – 4.9 million of these were with permission and 530,000 were unauthorised.
Pregnant women will be given a £200 grant to spend on nutritious food, the government announced last week.
The grant, which will be backed up by advice on healthy eating, is aimed at reducing the number of low birthweight babies who have a higher risk of developing conditions like cerebral palsy. In his first major speech as health secretary, Alan Johnson said the new health in pregnancy grant would be brought in in 2009 in addition to healthy start vouchers worth £2.80 a week.