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Background

Labour Force In 1971, women’s labour-force participation rate was less than half that of men (39% compared to 82%). Thirty-five years later, in 2005, 60.9% of women were in the labour force compared to 74.8% of men (Statistics New Zealand). Currently, one in three mothers do not come back to the workforce after having children when their children are young. This is partly attributed to the lack of flexibility available to them in workplaces. (National Equal Opportunities Network ‘Why be a good employer’ 2006). The Prime Minister, Helen Clark, highlighted the need to increase women’s workforce participation in her February 2005 opening address to Parliament. She stated that ’While overall New Zealand’s labour force participation rates are high, coming in seventh in the OECD in 2003, our women’s rate lags – and in particular sits below the OECD average for women aged 25 – 34’. Government initiatives to assist women’s participation include paid parental leave, child and out-of-school care, flexible working arrangements, progressing opportunities for work-life balance and action to address pay-equity issues in the public sector. (Helen Clark, Statement to Parliament, 1 February 2005). The importance of choice in these initiatives including staying at home or working full or part-time, was highlighted in the Government’s ten-year action plan to improve caring and employment choices available to parents and carers, Choices for Living, Caring and Working August 2006. The action plan encourages employers in …identifying options to assist parents and carers return to work after periods of full-time care, including through career advice, information and guidance, which may include job search assistance, training and job placement. (p 21) Unemployment in New Zealand is currently around 3.7%, the second-lowest on record and the second-lowest in the OECD, and is contributing to increased pressure to retain skilled workers. ILO Convention 183 Maternity Protection Convention In June 2000, the General Conference of the International Labour Organisation adopted the Maternity Protection Convention and its associated Recommendation 191 setting out the internationally recognised minimum standards that should apply in any workplace in order to promote equality of all women in the workplace and the health and safety of the mother and child. The New Zealand Government voted in support of the adoption of this Convention and is reviewing domestic law for compatibility. The Convention includes the ’right to one or more daily breaks or a reduction of hours of work to breastfeed her child’ and that such breaks ’shall be counted as working time and remunerated accordingly’. The New Zealand Council of Trade Unions, in marking World Breastfeeding Week 2006, noted that providing a supportive working environment, including provisions enabling mothers to breastfeed at work and family-friendly workplaces were critical to retaining staff. Previous University of Auckland Studies The University of Auckland has conducted two related projects, the Review of Paid Parental Leave 2005 and the Work-Life and Family Responsibilities Survey 2005. Matters connected with returning to work were raised in both reviews. Changes since these projects have taken place include allowing eligible parents to receive both

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Profile for Tertiary Education Union

Women Returning to Work  

a joint project by the University of Auckland and the Association of University Staff analysing women’s experiences returning to work after...

Women Returning to Work  

a joint project by the University of Auckland and the Association of University Staff analysing women’s experiences returning to work after...

Profile for nzteu
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