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a TUC handbook for all trade unionists 2

Working Women Women in Trade Unions

3rd edition

working women

working women a TUC handbook for all trade unionists

3rd edition

This edition of Working Women is dedicated to the memory of Mary Macarthur (1880–1921). Born in Ayr in Scotland, Mary Macarthur dedicated her short life to campaigning with working women to improve their lives through trade union organisations specially for them. Founder and leader of the National Federation of Women Workers from 1906 until her death in 1921, she was a tireless campaigner for the unemployed, immersed herself in wartime work, battled for and won an amendment to the 1916 Munitions Act which gave women the same pay as men when doing the same work, and laid the legal basis for the first national minimum wage in the engineering industry.

Acknowledgements The TUC acknowledges with thanks the assistance of Helen Carr in developing this workbook.

Š 2013 TUC ISBN 978 1 85006 942 3 First published 1991 Second edition 2005 This edition May 2013 Trades Union Congress Congress House Great Russell Street London WC1B 3LS Tel:020 7636 4030 Design by Printed by Ancient House Press Illustrations by Gillian Blease Front cover photo For more copies of this title contact our ordering point on 020 7467 1294 or Bulk discounts may be offered.

All TUC publications may be made available for dyslexic or visually impaired readers, on request, in an agreed electronic format or in accessible formats such as Braille, audiotape and large print, at no extra cost.

Foreword by Frances O’Grady, TUC General Secretary These are tough times for working women and men. But the number of women in the workplace is growing year on year, and that presents unions with real opportunities to organise and improve working lives for everyone. Austerity cuts have hit women hardest with big job losses and precious public services like childcare, adult social care and women’s refuges under pressure. Living standards have been stagnating for years and, as the bills pile up, the real value of women’s pay and pensions has diminished. Pay inequality is growing too and the share of the wealth we all produce that goes to wages is falling. Sexual harassment in the workplace and sexist stereotyping continues to act as a barrier to many women who want to move up the career ladder or into jobs that have traditionally been seen as “men’s work”. More than forty years after the passing of the Equal Pay Act, unfair pay practices and a stubborn gender pay gap persists. But by winning agreements for dignity at work, new learning opportunities and fair pay, unions are making a real difference to the lives of millions of women. Union membership is also our best guarantee of workplace justice as core employment rights, such as protection against unfair dismissal, reduced, and pernicious “zero hours” and agency contracts are on the rise. Today, women trade unionists outnumber men and we are seeing more women taking leadership roles at every level. While we’ve still got a long way to go, three out of ten union leaders are now women – a far better picture than that in the world of business or politics. TUC Education has been fertile ground for women trade unionists who have found training, support, and a route into trade union activism through the many courses and opportunities on offer. This third edition of our hugely influential Working Women is designed to keep pace with the changing world of work and the new challenges faced by women trade unionists. Please make good use of this workbook and let Liz Rees ( know how it can be improved for the fourth edition.

Working Women Women in Trade Unions

Contents Women’s Changing Lives Women In Trade Unions The Legal Framework – Equality Pensions

3 11 27 43

Working Hours Flexible Working Homeworking Part-Time Working Work/Life Balance

49 49 52 53 53

Maternity, Children and Caring Maternity Rights Childcare Rights For Carers

61 61 66 70

Women and Health Bullying Health and Safety Well-Being Violence Domestic Violence

73 73 79 83 87 88

Learning, Training and Leadership International Solidarity Resources and Contacts TUC Education Contacts

95 105 113 116

Introduction About this book This book is about the lives and experiences of women at work, in their communities and as trade unionists. It is designed as a resource for all trade unionists – as a source of information, as an aid to discussion, and as a stimulus to working towards a fairer deal for women. The first Working Women course book was produced by TUC Education in 1991, and women’s lives are still changing, with progress made and new challenges. It is important to remember our history and not take improvements at work for granted. Working Women aims to: enable women trade unionists’ voices to be heard and their presence to be visible in their union and in the workplace start discussion about the contribution of women at work and in their trade unions increase skills, knowledge and expertise on the diversity of women’s lives and experience raise awareness of the barriers facing women and how to organise to overcome them encourage and inspire trade unionists to challenge discrimination.

How to use this book The book is designed for use on TUC courses, union courses, workplace discussion groups, and in the wider movement with young people and community groups. It has a mixed format – easy to read information, a mix of facts and comments on the experience of working women, things to find out and activities for groups. You can either use it as a resource to stimulate discussion, a source to dip in on issues you are not sure of, or of course, read it from cover to cover. Feel free to copy it for educational and trade union activity – the more people who read about the issues affecting working women, think about them, discuss them, digest them, and act upon them the better. TUC Education has many other online resources including interactive eNotes which can be used in conjunction with this book. You can find them at


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


© John Harris/

In 2007 this book found that the five most common occupations for women were: sales assistant/cashier, secretarial, teaching profession, healthcare and related personal services, administrative occupations (finance). This is still the case. New areas of work for women tend towards the lower paid service sector.


Women’s changing lives Women’s lives and choices have been transformed over the last century and for many older women, the lives that many young women now have would have been unthinkable and impossible. Yet we still face discrimination in society, including at work, and are far from being equal to men anywhere in the world. Work has become more central to most women’s lives. Most women have always had to work as well as being the main carer of children, other relatives and the home. Access to education has gradually increased the employment choices for many women, as has much stronger anti-discrimination legislation. Other changes in our society such as access to safe and legal contraception, household gadgets, the growth and visibility of different kinds of families and the fact that domestic violence is a crime all support women’s right to be valued and to make their own choices. Some women will have jobs they enjoy but many women work in jobs that are low paid, unskilled and with poor benefits. Many women hold down several part-time jobs as well as managing a family, and it is when we remember these women that the highly popular myth of ‘having it all’ is set in context. There has been a steady stream of cases of highly successful, well-paid women challenging this myth as the stresses and strain of trying to do it all, even with financial security, takes its toll on their working and personal lives.

Work has become more central to most women’s lives. Most women have always had to work as well as being the main carer of children, other relatives and the home.

Many women have to choose low paid jobs for the convenience of the hours or location, or in order to fit round other responsibilities. Very often a job will not reflect a woman’s experiences, skills, education or aspirations. As a society we judge each other ‘by what we do’ and it is important to recognise that women’s lives, experiences and choices are complex. Women still fight for decent pay (see the equal pay section) and for affordable childcare. These two issues are still a significant barrier to women’s equality. In 2007 this book found that the five most common occupations for women were: sales assistant/cashier, secretarial, teaching profession, healthcare and related personal services, administrative occupations (finance). This is still the case. New areas of work for women tend towards the lower paid service sector. Official statistics show that: the full-time gender pay gap between men and women is 14.9 per cent the pay gap varies across sectors and regions, rising to up to 55 per cent in the finance sector and up to 33.3 per cent in the City of London interruptions to working, due to caring responsibilities, account for 14 per cent of the gender pay gap 64 per cent of the lowest paid workers are women, contributing not only to women’s poverty but to the poverty of their children there are almost four times as many women in part-time work as men. Part-time workers are likely to receive lower hourly rates of pay than full-time workers nine out of ten lone parents are women. The median gross weekly pay for male single parents is £346 while for female single parents it is £194. (Source: Fawcett Society


Working Women Women’s changing lives

Women’s access to education is also threatened by the cuts to adult education and the huge increase in higher education fees. Many women have accessed education as mature students and statistics are already showing that the higher education fee increase is having a disproportionate effect on this group.

Traps for men

Traps for women lack of help with childcare no sharing of domestic tasks paid work has to fit in with family commitments so is often part time, low paid and in unsocial hours, e.g. night cleaners lack of mobility – women are less likely to be able to travel for work because of family commitments

low, insecure family income – fairer sharing would give women greater choices about jobs they could do and increase the income into the home long working hours – men could work less and have the chance to spend more time with their children being judged by your work – pressure from society to be a ‘traditional’ breadwinner.

glass ceiling motherhood penalty. Both men and women suffer as a result of occupational segregation and often face barriers if they want to work in jobs that do not comply with gender stereotypes.

Families come in all shapes and sizes… The family as it is traditionally portrayed has changed from the two parent heterosexual family to a diversity of models. These include single parent families including those headed by a man, families in which grandchildren are brought up by grandparents, families following remarriage or new partnership, extended mutigenerational families, lesbian and gay families which can be two parent, single parent or shared parenting, mixed heritage families and families which are extended through adoption and fostering. Some of these families still face prejudice but the more positive exposure different families get through the media and by being visible the better.

And so do women… Women share common histories and experiences but there are also differences which can affect how we are able to live our lives. For example, a disabled woman who has consistently been excluded from social activities at work may be reluctant to get involved in the union or a black woman who overheard a racist joke made by a trade union rep may think the union is not for her. Also we might assume a person is being treated badly at work because she is a woman when the main reason is homophobia or ageism. Recognising and acknowledging difference is important in building inclusive trade unions and campaigns.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists




Women at work Q Women are concentrated in five types of jobs – ‘the five Cs’ – what are they? A Caring, catering, cashiering, cleaning and clerical work

Women and the cuts At the time of writing, women are very much under attack. The deep and immediate cuts in public spending as part of the attempt to reduce the UK’s budget deficit are affecting women disproportionately. Job cuts, benefit freezes and reductions in legal aid all have a gender impact. Women will be disproportionately affected by the job cuts in the public sector – two thirds of public sector workers are female so it’s likely that about half a million of the 710,000 reduction in the public pay roll forecast by the Office of Budget Responsibility will be women. Even if women are able to find employment in the private sector, many will have to take lower skilled work and pay cuts. This will result in a widening of the overall gender pay gap and worsening levels of female poverty. Women also use many public services more than men so it is women who will be hit by the closure of libraries, Sure Start centres and other local facilities. The Local Government Association says that 63 per cent of Sure Start centres have been forced to make some changes to the service they offer. Some 240 Sure Start centres have been forced to close or offer a more limited service since 2010. Women’s role as carers will mean they will have to step in where state help is withdrawn. Women will be forced out of the workplace and back into the home. Changes to working tax credit will hit the lowest paid families. To qualify, couples with child caring responsibilities must now have to work at least 24 hours a week, rather than 16, at a time when full-time work is increasingly hard to come by. Child Poverty Action Group has estimated that a couple with children, one working 20 hours on the minimum wage, will lose £74.34 a week – almost £4,000 a year. An estimated 35,000 more families will fall into poverty. These are only some of the issues facing women. The TUC has produced a Women and the Cuts Toolkit which contains detailed information about the cuts and how to challenge them. The TUC has also produced a Women and the Cuts briefing which is available at


Working Women Women’s changing lives



Women at work Q How many men and women work? A There are currently 13.7 million women in employment and 15.88 million men (September 2012)

Things to find out Working women and men in your family Talk to some of your family members, people who live in your house or who you have been brought up with about the work that women and men have done. Try to talk to different generations, young and old. Complete the chart about working women and men in your family. Chart of Working Women and Men In Your Family Women’s work

Men’s work

Brothers and sisters

Nieces and nephews

Other people who live in your house or who you were brought up with



Great grandparents


What do you notice about the different jobs that women and men have done in your family? Did younger members have very different views than older generations? Did anyone think their experience was right or ‘just the way it had to be’? What did those who were yet to go to work want to be?

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists




Women at work Q How many women are in low paid jobs? A 28 per cent compared to 17 per cent of working men (TUC figures from Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings 2011)

Activity Images of women’s work Aims

To help you: examine the messages in the media understand the impact of these messages.


Working in small groups, collect and then look through: a general magazine or newspaper a union journal. Fill in the worksheet to show stereotyped images of work and positive images of women at work. Did the union journal have different images?

Report back


Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Working Women Women’s changing lives

Worksheet Images of work

Stereotyped images

Positive images

What is being shown in the pictures? What kind of stories or adverts are the pictures supporting? Which adverts are aimed at women and which at men? How realistic do you think these images are? Are there any types of women left out of the pictures? Why is this?

Worksheet Your image of a successful woman.

Why did you choose that image? Do you think you are influenced by the media on deciding what a successful woman is? Does the image reflect your life? Do you feel successful? Tell the group the name of one woman you admire and why?

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


People call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat or a prostitute. Rebecca West (Journalist and novelist who reported on the Nuremburg trials)

Nobody had really allowed for the task of moving aircraft from the factories…. they were short of pilots of any shape or size. The main problems were weather and balloons. You could never fly straight from one place to another. We took planes all over the UK. The Tiger Moths were the smallest and were the ones the women started on but by 1941 we were moving Spitfires, Hurricanes and Oxfords. After the war there were no jobs for women pilots. Lettice Curtis (former Air Transport Auxillary pilot quoted in Don’t You Know There’s A War On? The People’s Voice 1939–1945 by Jonathan Croall)

Geraldine Cobb, the first woman astronaut to be trained for space travel, passed all the tests in 1960 along with 25 other women. They never saw space flight as they were thought too risky to send into orbit. “I find it ridiculous when I read in a newspaper that there is a place called Chimp College, New Mexico, where they are training 50 chimpanzees for space flight, one of them called Glenda. I think it would be just as important for women to undergo this training.” All the women’s space flight training was carried out separately so they never knew how each other got on. They only met up for the first time in 1995 when Lt. Eileen Collins launched the Shuttle.


Working WomenWomen’s changing lives

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Š Jess Hurd/

Women are more likely to be union members than men. Of all female employees 28.7 per cent are members, whilst for men the ďŹ gure is 23.4 per cent.


Women in Trade Unions In the UK over half of union members are now women. Yet women are still under-represented in the leadership of the trade union movement. The trade union movement now boasts 15 women general secretaries out of 53 TUC affiliated trade unions. There are four women at the helm of unions in the 10 biggest affiliates: Mary Bousted at ATL, Christine Blower at NUT, Sally Hunt at UCU and Chris Keates at NASUWT. Outside the top 10, and leading two medium-sized unions, are Michelle Stanistreet, at NUJ and Christine Payne at Equity. At the TUC Frances O’Grady is the General Secretary and Kay Carberry is the Assistant General Secretary. The changing way we work has had a huge influence of the composition of trade unions. A couple of generations ago the typical union member would have been a man who worked full time in a large organisation undertaking manual work. Today, there are more part-time workers in membership who are typically women and also women working in public sector jobs. To ensure women feel they have a stake in the union and want to be active, we all need to be able to: be clear about what a trade union can do for women get women involved in all the activities of the union from meetings, to campaigns and education

The trade union wage premium is higher for women than for men (30.7 per cent compared with 9.9 per cent).

start to influence the negotiating agenda by talking to women at work to see what they want and then passing this on to other union reps or getting on the negotiating bodies themselves support women in becoming a union rep, health and safety rep, learning rep or equality rep themselves recognise that women may be facing other issues at work too which may be about their race or age or disability or sexual orientation. Men as well as women must make sure that they listen to women workers and take up their issues, especially where women are underrepresented in the decision making bodies in unions and at work.

Women and the role of union representative Becoming a trade union rep can be daunting and the main reasons given by women for not taking up the role are: family commitments lack of time lack of training lack of support from partners and family lack of support from colleagues lack of knowledge about how the union works, particularly decision making culture of the union/union branch lack of confidence.


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

It is important that women are visible in the union as this will encourage other women to come forward and also ensure that issues which may be more important to women remain on the trade union agenda.

Knowledge is the most important thing. If women do not have access to knowledge and information about trade union decision making systems or how to get into them, this is the biggest barrier. (ETUC resource guide From membership to leadership).

Women need to be visible; we need cultural change, a cohesive approach from the top of the union to the bottom. Having been in a male-dominated union, you need to take men with you – not to lead but to support. Collective action is what we do best. Vicky, UCU member

Things to find out Women need unions, and unions need women Look at your union’s website, documents or pamphlets. Talk to reps in your workplace. Find out how women’s issues are being campaigned for in your union. What organisations does your union affiliate to? What are the implications for your workplace and what can you do to help? How does your union support and develop its women members? Is there a women’s committee or conference? What training is available?

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Checklist: things to do to get women involved in trade unions Trade unions can organise positive action for women which will raise the visibility and prominence of women’s role in the union and in the workplace. Do your research Find out how many women are in the branch and in the workplace. Survey women members, asking about the issues that are important to them. Also find out about the diversity of women in the union and other forms of discrimination or harassment based on race, age, disability or sexual orientation. Look at the policies of your employer and identify any disproportionate impacts on women members. Organise Designate a member of the branch to be the lead on women’s issues (could be the equality rep or women’s officer). Ask women to support this role and come forward for other branch roles. Agree what issues you are going to prioritise and develop an action plan. Set up an email network of women members for easy communication. Educate Arrange meetings to reach all women members.

Union density is higher for women than men in only four out of 16 sectors: finance; retail and wholesale; education; and accommodation and food services.

Advertise education and training opportunities. Use this book to raise awareness. Raise awareness Communicate your union’s work on women’s issues through emails, newsletters, meetings or setting up a Facebook page. Ask women how they want to receive information – for example by post, email, email network or through the union website. Make sure meetings are advertised well in advance so women members can attend. Order publications and posters from your union head office to raise the visibility of women’s issues. Link up with other campaigns in your area such as saving a nursery or supporting an international campaign. Publicise any networks that have been formed such as black members or disabled members – it’s important that the diversity of members is recognised. Encourage other informal networks to be set up. Publicise special interest groups or formal committees on specific issues such as bullying and harassment or age discrimination.


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

Checklist: cont’d Network and support One to one chats in an informal setting will improve communications with members. Ask women to try being a rep for six months or work together with someone else to support them. Encourage women to attend trade union meetings and conferences – not just about women’s issues but taking on the wider agenda of the union. Ensure women members know that there are women reps who can be approached confidentially for support and help. Socialise Organise women get-togethers that take in a social event that is about women e.g. going to see a film. Women lead busy lives – they don’t get many chances to relax so combine union activity with enjoyment. Celebrate! – organise events around International Women’s Day or other days agreed by women members. In the wider community Organise training for women members who would like to be school governors, who could sit on local school committees or other public bodies. Involve the union branch in community activities: e.g. local family festivals, people’s days. Support local campaigns, deportation cases where women are highlighted. Invite local women’s youth bands and theatre to union events. Ask your local Trades Council to research and produce a local history of women workers. Make links with local women’s voluntary sector groups.

Measures that support women members’ participation are: union officials dealing specifically with equality branch or workplace equality reps national equality or women’s body/committee reserved/guaranteed seat for women on various union bodies/delegations a national women’s/equality conference/seminar rules on women’s representation at conferences.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


The following text is written and supplied by UK Feminista.

UK Feminista is one of the organisations that can support your campaigns It's an exciting time for feminism. Having spent years in the political wilderness, with politicians and pundits writing it off as a moribund movement, feminism is back where it belongs – in the headlines and on the streets. Between 2010 and 2012 the number of grassroots feminist groups doubled, and protests and marches are now being staged week in week out. A recent Guardian headline reflecting on this upsurge in feminist organising sums up the new audacious spirit in the air: “Feminism is back and we want to finish the revolution, say activists“. Why this upsurge in feminist organising? Because we need it. Urgently. Abortion rights are under sustained attack in Parliament and government cuts are hacking away at women’s economic independence. Women are increasingly objectified throughout the media, and all the while the female power vacuum at the heart of government persists. Defending women's hard won rights, driving forward legislative and cultural change – these things can't be done just by a small group of policy-makers behind closed doors. It takes ordinary women and men to stand up and make their voices heard. It takes people to come together and organise, whether it be in their communities, workplaces, schools or universities. In short, it takes a movement. That's why UK Feminista was set up in 2010 – to support and grow this burgeoning base of grassroots activists and help people translate their passion into real change. We offer resources and training on feminist activism, like our annual Summer School – where budding activists can learn everything from suffragette-era tactics of direct action to the rather more modern method of mobilising supporters through Facebook and Twitter. Our annual 'FEM Conference' provides a national forum for organisations and activists to debate the issues and organise for change. And our network of Regional Organisers hold regional gatherings for people to come together, develop their campaigning skills and forge local links. The impact of this revitalised feminist movement is already being felt. After a successful national campaign to give local authorities greater powers to regulate lap dancing clubs, activists across the country are winning local campaigns to limit the number of these clubs (sometimes to 'zero') in their communities. Campaigners have fought off recent parliamentary attacks on abortion services, as well as staging successful local campaigns to save crucial women's services from brutal budget cuts. Importantly, activists have also managed to shift the public debate about feminism. The question is no longer, 'does feminism exist?' – but 'what can it achieve?'. Of course, the challenges and threats to women's equality remain immense. But each day more and more people are starting to fight back. The bedrock of feminism is the notion that change is possible. We can have a world where women are not raped, where their bodies are not treated as sexual objects, and where men are not encouraged to prove their masculinity through aggression, dominance, and violence. But this world won't just 'appear'. We have to create it. For resources and events on feminist activism and to find out more about UK Feminista's work visit


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

Activity Your role in your union Aims

To help you: recognise how much you do for your trade union and its members identify what and who has helped you and what obstacles you face.


Take five minutes to make a note of your role in your trade union and what activities you have been involved in (e.g. a strike, meeting with management, leafleting and recruiting). Look at what you have done and what helped you do these things and what obstacles you faced. Share with your group what has helped you and what problems and obstacles got in the way. Discuss what you would like to do in the trade union movement in the future and any roles you would particularly like to have.

Questionnaire: Ask a woman worker – What would you like your union to do for you? Recruitment What do you think are the barriers to women joining the union?

What do you think are the barriers to women becoming union reps? (please tick) family commitments

culture of union

lack of time


lack of training

union branch

partners and family

union – not knowing enough about it

worried about impact on work

lack of confidence

worried about employer reaction

other (please explain)

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


How can we encourage women to become union members?

Or workplace reps?

Which would you like to find out more about? (please tick) union rep

health and safety rep

learning rep

equality rep

As a union rep you would be able to attend courses in work time. Which would you be interested in? (Please tick) becoming a union rep/health and safety/learning/equality rep moving on in your union women and health and safety leadership and management organising women workers advanced rep training discussion leading women tutor training domestic abuse, building confidence and assertiveness other

What issues do you think women members would be interested in that could be the basis for a learning circle or a campaign at work or in the community: e.g. domestic violence, women’s health, rights for part-time workers?

Please return this questionnaire to:


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

Activity Taking up issues in the union Aims

To help you: identify issues that women want to address through the union become familiar with union structures and procedures practice speaking skills.

Task 1

Working in groups decide on an issue, concern or aspiration that you or a group of women where you work would like to progress through the union. Create a list or flow chart to show a step by step approach that you would recommend to progress the matter within the union.

Task 2

Prepare your arguments to explain your issue to one of the following: a male union rep a union conference or meeting a meeting with management.


TUC Women’s Conference Report which contains examples of resolutions on issues of importance to women workers.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Becoming a union representative Union representatives play a central and unique role because of the trust and confidence attached to the position. They are the first point of contact when members want to make a complaint or sometimes just talk about something that is worrying them at work. They are the link with the employer in negotiations. It is important that reps are seen to support their members in sex discrimination complaints. Taking up such problems can be complex, particularly in a workplace where sexist attitudes and practices prevail. In such workplaces union reps may find themselves challenging the whole workforce as well as management where sexist practices have been condoned or ignored. The union rep also has a key role to play in: making the union accessible for everyone monitoring what goes on in the workplace and ensuring fair practices in employment and promotion involving members and ensuring that the union provides equal opportunity to everyone to be active within its different structures and activities.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


The TUC Equality Audit 2011 found that where unions provided disaggregated data on stewards/workplace reps, women were well represented as learning reps and equality reps and under-represented as safety reps and branch officers.

Challenging the ‘sexist culture’ Challenging discrimination and sexism is never easy, it requires confidence. Your confidence is influenced by: your level of knowledge and experience the support you receive from others the culture of the organisation your role and status your experiences of challenging discrimination in the past. It will always be difficult to challenge the ‘sexist culture’ if you are on your own. It may be that all you can do is to walk away when you witness this behaviour, particularly if everyone else is joining in. Although the legislation is in place, the hardest challenge is to change the culture of an organisation. This is recognised across equality groups and although members will have the security of the law, they may still work in a culture that includes homophobia or sexist norms. Asking your employer to publicly state that it wants an organisation where everyone works in an environment free from discrimination will support a culture change. Challenging the day to day language and views of colleagues can be difficult and having support from a clear statement from your organisation will make it easier to challenge.

Women are well represented in learning rep and equality rep roles in most unions (TUC Equality Audit 2011).

If you feel confident then go ahead and challenge it. Challenges which focus more on offering explanations as to why the behaviour or decision is wrong and attempting to aid understanding are usually more successful. Everyone at some time has made an unjustifiable remark or laughed at a discriminatory joke or made a decision which was based on prejudice. But some behaviour or reactions are not acceptable and should be challenged.

Developing wider support for your involvement Some men are unaware of the barriers to the involvement of their women colleagues within the union. The union rep has a key role to play in raising awareness of and challenging sexism and unions in the UK have a long history of producing training and educational material which challenges sexism and discrimination. Gaining the support of one or two other members is better than nothing and gives you a base to work on. You can then start to plan a step by step strategy that involves different types of activity. Your plans could include: targeting sympathetic members placing copies of handouts and information around the workplace that contain arguments that counter myths and explain topical gender related issues publicity on a theme that promotes diversity: e.g. the effects of bullying and harassment, or lesbian and gay parenting drawing attention to a television programme which deals with the issue


Working Women Women in Trade Unions

publicising successful cases that occur in work or from elsewhere in the same sector a programme of union training for reps and members a programme of training as part of a wider commitment from the employer to challenge sexism and discrimination at work.

Activity Women workers – mapping the workplace Task

Ask your personnel section for figures about numbers of women employees and: who are female and identify as black and minority ethnic who are female and identify as disabled who identify as lesbian which departments they are in which jobs they do (full time/part-time) what grades they are on how long they have been on that grade. Draw a workplace map to show where women workers are and the jobs that they do.

Report back

Explain your map to the rest of the group. Do you think some of this information will not be available for reasons of confidentiality or reluctance to share? How would you take this issue forward?

Representing members It is still the case that some women see unions as male organisations either indifferent or hostile to their concerns. In some workplaces, women members feel that grievances are not taken seriously and union reps will not challenge management over sex discrimination issues. Union reps should never suggest that: the member is being too sensitive the member has a chip on their shoulder they know the alleged person who carried out the incident and cannot believe that they would do/say such a thing perhaps it was only a joke. Any response by the union rep should be swift and positive. You may be unsure of the next steps but the member will be reassured if you have listened and agreed to support them. It will help if there are workplace policies and procedures that make the member feel confident that they will be supported by their union and management.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Women are underrepresented in safety rep and branch officer positions in most unions (TUC Equality Audit 2011).

Women should be able to seek the support of another woman representative, branch officer or paid official. Where this is not possible some unions have Advisory Committees at regional or national level or trained officers who can offer advice and support to the representative and the member. It is quite acceptable to feel nervous and unsure but you must do something to help the member so key issues for reps include: knowing who to go to for help and advice in the union – your union website will hold this information knowing which procedures to use. Are there separate procedures for harassment or is the grievance procedure used? ensuring that, if there are no procedures, members should not be discouraged from pursuing complaints. Once the member has made the complaint, union reps need to decide what to do. Remember that those experiencing sex discrimination want it stopped.

Activity Sex discrimination – what would you do? Aims

To help you: work through problems understand sex discrimination.


Your tutor will allocate a case study to your group. Discuss and agree how you would respond to the following situations. Think about the informal and formal approaches.

1) A young Asian woman tells you in strictest confidence that the manager she works with has been taunting her about arranged marriages and her new baby. She was interviewed for a promotion job but was asked questions about looking after her new baby. She doesn’t have the confidence to raise the matter with management. 2) A group of part-time women members complain that they are being given less work to do than anyone else in the warehouse (there are 50/50 men and women working) and have been told that some of the women will be made redundant by the end of the week. The manager has made a few derogatory remarks about their work but the other workers don’t seem to want to do anything about it. 3) A woman worker tells you that she has been turned down for a job because her qualifications aren’t good enough. The job is on a higher scale and better paid. A man with similar qualifications has been given the post. 4) A woman member has had some time off work to look after elderly parents. Members in the department are supportive but the line manager says she is taking advantage and that they will be making her redundant at the end of the month.


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5) A new employee complains that other workers are making it difficult for her to fit in. They don’t tell her where things are kept or give help on completing new work that she is not familiar with. This morning she found a sexist joke pinned to her notice board. 6) A woman member informs you that she has not been re-deployed even though her skills match the criteria but she doesn’t want anything done about it as she fears recrimination. The manager knows the situation but tells you they will not be taking any action since the person has asked them not to. 7) A woman member has asked for carers’ leave and been told that she will have to take a cut in pay if this carries on.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back.

Negotiating for equality The best way to deal with sex discrimination is to negotiate and enforce agreements with the employer promoting equal treatment for all workers. Many employers claim to be equal opportunities employers but often there is a wide gap between what exists on paper and what happens in practice. No workplace should be without policies and agreements that address the issues of: recruitment, selection and promotion training and development conditions of service which meet the specific concerns of women workers such as maternity and parental leave, harassment and bullying and flexible working positive action monitoring progress.

Monitoring progress It is one thing to have a policy, quite another for it to be acted upon. It is good practice for reps to monitor what is really happening in the workplace or ensure that employers are monitoring equality and diversity policies. This is done by: collecting and analysing information such as branch/membership participation, training take up, earnings, hours, age, ethnic origin, gender, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, job grades, fringe benefits reviewing questions, criteria, procedures and actual practice on recruitment, selection and promotion monitoring of incidents of harassment and bullying and how they are taken up monitoring of how complaints of discrimination are taken up. It is good practice to analyse what your employer is doing but also what the union branch is doing. How is the branch supporting its membership? Are discrimination cases taken seriously? Are women being encouraged to be reps and caseworkers? This information will provide negotiators with a profile of what is happening in the workplace and how different groups are being treated. From here targets can be set and monitored. Remember – monitoring is pointless unless the results are acted upon.

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You can use the duty on employers to disclose information for the purposes of collective bargaining (s.181, TULRCA 1992), if you want to gain monitoring information from them. See the Acas Code of Practice for guidance on this duty. If you are dealing with a public sector employer, then they have a specific duty under the Public Sector Equality Duty to publish equality information related to the workforce (if there are more than 150 employees). Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) guidance advises public sector employers that it is helpful to gather equality information on the following: recruitment and promotion numbers of part-time and full-time staff pay and remuneration training return to work of women on maternity leave return to work of disabled employees following sick leave relating to their disability appraisals grievances (including about harassment) disciplinary action (including for harassment) dismissals and other reasons for leaving.

The best way to deal with sex discrimination is to negotiate and enforce agreements with the employer promoting equal treatment for all workers.

The Freedom of Information Act also gives you the right to ask any public body for all the information they have on any subject you choose. Unless there’s a good reason, the organisation must provide the information within 20 working days. Some information might be withheld to protect various interests which are allowed for by the Act. If this is the case, the public authority must tell you why they have withheld information.

Further information EHRC guidance on the PSED: Acas Code of Practice on Disclosure of Information: Further information about Freedom of Information requests:

Trades Union Congress The Trades Union Congress (TUC) was set up in 1868 as a ‘union of all unions’. The TUC: brings Britain’s unions together to draw up common policies lobbies the government to implement policies that will benefit people at work campaigns on economic and social issues represents working people on public bodies represents British workers at international bodies, in the European Union and at the UN employment body – the International Labour Organisation carries out research on employment-related issues runs an extensive training and education programme for union representatives helps unions develop new services for their members helps to resolve inter-union disputes builds links with other trade union bodies worldwide. 23

Working Women Women in Trade Unions

There are now 53 unions in the TUC – the number varies from year to year as unions merge and new members join and unions affiliate. The General Secretary is the one permanent member of the General Council and there are over 320 TUC staff across the country, including Regional Education officers.

Five TUC campaign successes: In 1948 the NHS was created as a result of union campaigning. In 1970 the Equal Pay Act made it illegal for employers to give a woman worker different pay to a man. In 1999 the National Minimum Wage was established to protect low-paid workers. In 1999 thanks to union pressure at European level, a limit was placed on working hours. This was followed by a minimum holiday entitlement. In 2007 the no-smoking ban was introduced in public areas in response to union arguments that workers were risking their health.

Congress TUC policy is set by the annual Congress, which meets for four days of debate each year in early September. All affiliate unions are entitled to be represented – the size of the delegation depends on the size of the union.

General Council Between Congresses the General Council (meets every two months) makes TUC policy, oversees the TUC work programme and sanctions new initiatives. The larger unions are automatically represented and the smaller ones ballot for a number of places. There are seats for women, black workers, young workers, disabled workers and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers. The General Council appoints some of its members to form an Executive Committee. This meets monthly and deals with urgent action.

President The post-Congress meeting of the General Council elects the President for that Congress year. The President chairs meetings of the General Council and the Executive and is consulted by the General Secretary on all major issues.

Committees Committees focus on specific areas. There is the Women’s Committee, the Race Relations Committee, the Disabled Workers’ Committee, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Committee and the Young Members’ Forum. The TUC Women’s Committee reports to the Women’s Conference. The Women’s Committee is responsible for making sure that motions passed at conference, and other issues important to women workers and trade unionists, are acted on. A Women’s Committee is necessary because the TUC and many unions have introduced into their structures positive action measures to involve more women members. This has included union policies on opposing sexism, racism and discrimination within the union, reserved seats, monitoring of union officers and staff, guidance material for union reps and officers, women’s committees and conferences. Workplace issues that particularly affect women can be forgotten and women’s structures help make the gender perspective visible. A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Women’s committees are important because they: offer a gender perspective to a range of union issues which ensures integration into everything that goes on in the union give women members the opportunity to discuss issues without having to spend time explaining why they need to meet separately – they can get on with the business in hand provide a greater focus to the work of the branch to ensure that things get done effectively engage members and facilitate sharing of information and expertise by asking members to write and give reports emphasising their own priorities and campaigns ensure nominations and attendance at committees and conferences at all levels of the union. The TUC Equality and Employment Rights Department services the equality committees and aims to influence public policy. The department works closely with a wide range of organisations from public bodies such as the Equality and Human Rights Commission, to voluntary sector organisations such as Working Families, the Fawcett Society, the Daycare Trust and many others, to make recommendations for improvements in areas such as maternity pay, equal pay, Work/life balance and education and training provision. A full list of the members of the TUC's General Council, Executive, the Chairs of each committee and TUC staff can be found in the annual TUC Directory, which is available from TUC Publications Department or on the TUC website:

At Congress women make up 40 per cent of delegates compared to TUCaffiliate 48 per cent membership.


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26 26

Š Stefano Cagnoni/

Of the larger unions, 63 per cent have a national equality body or committee.


The Legal Framework Equality “Keeping equality on the agenda is a struggle. We have legislation but we need to be vigilant about how employers comply and progress equality. Silence is complicity so women must speak out. Our most powerful instrument is our voice.” Gloria Mills, National Organiser for Equality, UNISON This section focuses on the legal framework with a particular emphasis on pay. The UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979) commits countries to outlawing all forms of discrimination against women. Employment rights that should apply equally to men and women include promotion, job security, and job opportunities. Discrimination on the basis of marital status or maternity is not allowed. The UK law on women at work has also been greatly influenced by various European laws including Directives on equal treatment. These include: the Equal Pay Directive 1975 and Equal Treatment Directive 1976, Pregnant Workers’ Directive 1992 and the Parental Leave Directive 1996. In 1975, the Equal Pay Act came into force after many years of campaigning by trade unions and this was followed a year later by the Sex Discrimination Act. At last, it was hoped, the struggle against discrimination in employment would have some teeth. In 1983, the concept of equal pay for equal value work was introduced into UK law.

A UN Convention from 1979 commits countries to outlawing discrimination against women.

Without doubt, legal rights to equal treatment have greatly improved women’s experience in the workforce. Much of the credit for this has to go to those women (sometimes supported by trade unions: e.g. in a number of landmark equal pay cases and the part-time workers’ pensions cases) who have had the tenacity and circumstances to see their case go through long drawn out legal procedures. But these legal battles are difficult, costly and stressful for the women involved and even when success is achieved they may just result in financial compensation for the victims. Trade unions have a role in pressing employers to adopt good policies and practices to minimise the risk of discrimination arising in the first place and in ensuring that, following individual complaints, action is taken to stop others suffering similar treatment.

The Equality Act 2010 The Equality Act 2010, which trade unions had long campaigned for, brought together all the various discrimination laws to create a simpler and more comprehensive legal framework. The Equality Act replaced the following legislation: Equal Pay Act 1970 Sex Discrimination Act 1975 Race Relations Act 1976 Disability Discrimination Act 1995 Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006, Part 2 Equality Act 2006 Equality Act (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007. The Equality Act 2010 covers nine ‘protected characteristics’. These are: age, disability, gender reassignment, married or civil partner status, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation. It is important to know them all as women can belong to more than one group and it is important to understand how, for example, age, race, trans status or sexual orientation can impact in combination with gender to affect how older women, black women, transsexuals or lesbians are treated at work. See the TUC Equality Law Guide for more information about how each of the protected characteristics is defined in the Equality Act 2010 and any specific provisions that cover them. Available from:

Age The Act protects people of all ages. Differential treatment on the grounds of age is unlawful unless it can be objectively justified, i.e. an employer would need to demonstrate that the treatment was a proportionate means of meeting a legitimate aim. For example, a minimum age requirement for some jobs may be necessary to protect young workers. Age is the only protected characteristic that allows employers to justify this sort of directly discriminatory treatment. It is also important to note that the default retirement age which allowed employers to forcibly retire someone when they reached 65 has now been abolished. So employers can only force people to retire when they reach a certain age if they can objectively justify it.

Disability A person is disabled if they have a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities, which includes things like using a telephone or using public transport. Employers have a duty to make reasonable adjustments for staff to help them overcome disadvantage resulting from an impairment. The Act includes a new protection from discrimination arising from disability. This states that it is discrimination to treat a disabled person unfavourably because of something connected with their disability (e.g. a tendency to make spelling mistakes arising from dyslexia). This type of discrimination is unlawful where the employer or other person acting for the employer knows, or could reasonably be expected to know, that the person has a disability. This type of discrimination is only justifiable if an employer can show that it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Additionally, indirect discrimination now covers disabled people. Indirect discrimination occurs when a policy or practice that applies to everyone has a particular disadvantage to disabled people. The Act also includes a new provision which makes it unlawful, except in certain circumstances, for employers to ask about a candidate’s health before offering them work.

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Gender reassignment The Act provides protection for transsexual people. A transsexual person is someone who proposes to, starts or has completed a process to change his or her gender. The Act no longer requires a person to be under medical supervision to be protected – so a woman who decides to live permanently as a man but does not undergo any medical procedures would be covered. Transgender people such as cross dressers, who are not transsexual because they do not intend to live permanently in the gender opposite to their birth sex, are not protected by the Act. It is discrimination to treat transsexual people less favourably for being absent from work because they propose to undergo, are undergoing or have undergone gender reassignment than they would be treated if they were absent because they were ill or injured. Medical procedures for gender reassignment such as hormone treatment should not be treated as a ‘lifestyle’ choice.

Marriage and civil partnership The Act protects employees who are married or in a civil partnership against discrimination. Single people are not protected.

Pregnancy and maternity In the Equality Act, religion includes any religion, and a lack of religion.

A woman is protected against discrimination on the grounds of pregnancy and maternity during the period of her pregnancy and any statutory maternity leave to which she is entitled. During this period, pregnancy and maternity discrimination cannot be treated as sex discrimination. An employer must not take into account an employee’s period of absence due to a pregnancy-related illness when making a decision about her employment.

Race For the purposes of the Act ‘race’ includes colour, nationality and ethnic or national origins. A racial group can be made up of two or more different racial groups (e.g. black Britons). There is power to add ‘caste’ by regulation to the definition of discrimination.

Religion or belief In the Equality Act, religion includes any religion. It also includes a lack of religion. Additionally, a religion must have a clear structure and belief system. Belief means any religious or philosophical belief or a lack of such belief. To be protected, a belief must satisfy various criteria, including that it is a weighty and substantial aspect of human life and behaviour. Denominations or sects within a religion can be considered a protected religion or religious belief. Humanism is a protected philosophical belief but political beliefs would not be protected. Discrimination because of religion or belief can occur even where both the discriminator and recipient are of the same religion or belief.

Sex Both men and women are protected under the Act.


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

Sexual orientation The Act protects bisexual, gay, heterosexual and lesbian people. There are seven main types of discrimination in UK law: direct discrimination associative discrimination perceptive discrimination indirect discrimination harassment third party harassment victimisation. The Act makes the following forms of treatment unlawful: direct discrimination, indirect discrimination, pregnancy and maternity discrimination, harassment and victimisation. These are explained below in relation to sex discrimination but they apply to all nine protected characteristics (except pregnancy and maternity discrimination, of course!) Note that if there has been discrimination in a woman’s pay or contractual terms and conditions this is covered by the ‘Equality of Terms’ or equal pay parts of the Act which are dealt with later.

Direct discrimination

There are seven main types of discrimination in UK law.

Direct discrimination is when a woman is treated less favourably than a man is or would be treated in similar circumstances. For example, a woman is not promoted because she has young children and the employer thinks she may not be as committed as a man even though the man has young children too.

Indirect discrimination Indirect discrimination applies in situations where an employer implements a policy or practice in the same way for everyone, but in practice it puts women at a particular disadvantage. For example, a requirement that workers be at least 6’ tall would put women at a disadvantage as would a policy that states a job can only be done on full-time, fixed hours as this would make it hard for women with childcare responsibilities who usually needed some flexibility to balance work and family life. Indirect discrimination can be justified if an employer can show that the policy or practice was ‘a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim’. A legitimate aim might be any lawful decision made in running an organisation, but if there is a discriminatory effect, the sole aim of reducing costs is likely to be unlawful. Being proportionate really means being fair and reasonable, including showing that the employer has looked at alternatives that would not have had such an adverse impact on women before a decision was made.

Pregnancy and maternity discrimination An employer must not treat a woman who is pregnant or on a period of statutory maternity leave unfavourably for any reason related to her pregnancy. For example, it would be unlawful for a pregnant worker in a call centre to be denied extra toilet breaks when she needed them or for an employer to take into consideration pregnancy-related

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


sickness absence when making any decisions about the woman’s employment. Note that the Equality Act also clearly states that any special treatment given to a woman because of her pregnancy or maternity is not direct sex discrimination against a man.

Harassment Harassment is unwanted conduct which is related to women, which has the purpose or effect of violating a woman’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for her. Conduct of a sexual nature which violates a woman’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for her or unfavourable treatment which results from the fact that a woman has rejected sexual overtures is also unlawful harassment.

Victimisation The law also outlaws victimisation. This is important as it means workers who complain of any unlawful treatment under the Act or people who have helped them such as a trade union rep must not be penalised or disadvantaged in some way because of the complaint.

Codes of Practice In addition to the law itself, there are statutory Codes of Practice which give further guidance on how the Equality Act should be interpreted. Although the Codes do not have the force of law, they carry considerable weight as tribunals and courts can take the advice they give into consideration when deciding a case.

Statutory questionnaires The Equality Act enables individuals to send questionnaires to their employer where they suspect they have been discriminated against so they can gain information that could help them bring a tribunal claim. If an employer fails to answer a questionnaire or gives evasive responses it could be taken against them at tribunal and the employer would then have to prove to the tribunal that discrimination was not the reason for the treatment. There are two questionnaires, one for discrimination and the other for equal pay. They are available from the Government Equalities Office website: The decision on the future of the statutory questionnaires will form part of the provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill, which will become law in 2013.

Positive action in recruitment and promotion As well as making discrimination and harassment unlawful, the Equality Act includes positive action provisions which are intended to encourage employers to take steps to counter the historic disadvantage that women have suffered, to meet the particular needs women might have that are different from men or to tackle the underrepresentation of women in different activities. This means things like recruitment campaigns targeted at getting more women applicants, women only open days or mentoring schemes just for women are lawful, provided they are a proportionate way of addressing disadvantage, different needs or under-representation.


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

There is a specific provision covering positive action in recruitment and promotion (section 159) which came into force on 6 April 2011. It allows an employer, when faced with making a choice between male and female candidates who are of equal merit, to appoint the woman because she is a woman if women are disproportionately under-represented or otherwise disadvantaged within the workforce or that particular occupation.

Equal pay Despite 40 years of equal pay legislation and the introduction of the National Minimum Wage in 1999 (which meant a greater increase in average hourly pay for many women workers) in the UK: Women working full time earn 14.9 per cent less than men’s average hourly earnings excluding overtime (ONS 2011). The gap in the public sector stands at 13.2 per cent and in the private sector at 20.4 per cent. The gap between women and men for full-time work is equivalent to men being paid all year round, while women work for free after 2 November (Fawcett Society). There are many reasons why the gender pay gap exists including discrimination against women in the workplace, the value placed on work predominantly undertaken by women, women still tending to be the primary carer within a household and more women being in parttime and low paid jobs. The gender pay gap also has wider ramifications, including: personal poverty and social exclusion child poverty poverty in old age due to limited pension provision less lifelong learning opportunities due to lack of funds de-motivation and stress employers not providing equal pay may suffer lack of competitiveness and are less likely to recruit and retain good employees government loses out on revenue from tax and national insurance contributions increase in state benefits for women. While the gender pay gap is a comparison between the hourly earnings of all men and all women and reflects the difference in opportunities within the labour market, equal pay is about challenging sex discrimination in pay rates. It is about ensuring that women are paid the same rate as men for doing the same or similar work or work that is different but is rated as equivalent under a valid job evaluation scheme or work that is of equal value (i.e. it requires a similar level of qualification, skills, experience, responsibility and effort). Equal pay legislation is in need of reform. The individual ‘complaints-led’ approach to remedying sex discrimination in pay has reached the limit of its effectiveness. Equal pay claims are notoriously complex and have sometimes taken more than a decade to progress through the courts. Claims mainly come from unionised and public sector workplaces where there are clear pay and grading structures. Individual women working in non-unionised, private sector companies where there is no transparency about what people earn or how different jobs are valued find it almost impossible to establish whether or not they are being paid equally.

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Despite the much larger gender pay gap in the private sector, only 1.3 per cent of the tens of thousands of equal pay claims currently in the tribunal system are against private sector employers. The Equality Act 2010 replicated most of the provisions of the Equal Pay Act which means there is still a very distinctive approach to dealing with sex discrimination in pay that is different from all the other protected characteristics. However there were three new provisions introduced: protection for individuals who share information about how much they earn with their colleagues (or a trade union officer or rep) a power to introduce mandatory gender pay gap reporting for large private sector employers sometime in the future, and the ability to bring a normal direct sex discrimination claim in cases where a woman cannot find an actual man doing equal work in the same employment as her.

Women working full-time earn 14.9 per cent less than men's average hourly earnings, excluding overtime (ONS 2011)

The power to introduce gender pay gap reporting was introduced in the Act by the Labour government. However, it initially wanted to pursue a voluntary approach and consulted the EHRC, TUC and CBI about what should be reported upon. The coalition government has also pursued the voluntary approach and it has produced its ‘Think, Act, Report’ framework to encourage private sector employers to report on a whole range of indicators about women’s pay and employment. It is available here: In the public sector, the new specific duty to publish equality information which was introduced to support the Public Sector Equality Duty requires public sector employers to report on their gender pay gaps. Reporting on overall gender pay gaps may be helpful in getting an employer focused on women’s pay and employment opportunities at work, but it will not be able to tell you whether there is equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. The most effective way of ensuring this is the case (as the EHRC’s statutory Code of Practice on equal pay recommends) is by pressing an employer to carry out an equal pay audit. This involves: checking where men and women are doing the same or similar work, work rated as equivalent or work of equal value comparing the pay and other contractual terms and conditions of these men and women taking action to close any gaps in pay which cannot be justified.

What more can be done to improve gender equality? While there were some small improvements in the Equality Act 2010, the TUC and trade unions have long campaigned for and still campaign for: compulsory equal pay audits for all organisations so the duty is placed on employers to check that jobs that are similar or of equal value are paid equally measures to combat the long hours working culture that limits women with caring responsibilities from competing on an equal basis with men government and employers should encourage men – not just women – to engage with work/life balance issues improved pay and employment opportunities for part-time workers, who face the largest pay penalties.


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

Other issues affecting equal pay – gender bias in job evaluation Job evaluation is a system for comparing different jobs within an organisation, usually as the basis for a pay structure. It aims to apply a common set of rules consistently and fairly to all jobs, to: develop a rank order of jobs allow comparisons between individual jobs in an organisation with an appeals mechanism allow comparisons between individual or groups of jobs in different organisations for pay comparability purposes. Job evaluation is used in many organisations and it is important that trade unions are consulted on the evaluation criteria to ensure equality proofing and that certain skills are not undervalued that might affect the grade of jobs in which women are most often employed: for example, physical effort being weighted higher than other skills.

Working towards equal pay Is the pay system transparent – can you understand it? Is there one pay system for all employees? Use a trade union approved job evaluation scheme. Limit discretion in pay packages such as performance-related pay or bonuses. Make sure the system is reviewed, especially if it includes market supplements for jobs which are/have been difficult to recruit for.

After the Equal Pay Act, I went to a shoe factory. I said to the manager ‘I suppose you have equal pay and that the women here and the men over there running the same machines get the same pay?’ And he said ‘Heavens no! Those men are putting heels on men’s shoes and the women are putting heels on women’s shoes. It’s not the same work.’ Hazel Hunkins Hallinan quoted in The Changing Status of Women by Olivia Bennett 1987

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Equality law and TUC Education eNotes TUC Education has produced a series of informative and interactive learning modules. These short self-study briefings, or eNotes, will help union representatives to develop and update their knowledge of key issues that may impact upon their workplace. The eNote on equality law is a thirty minute online activity, designed to be undertaken as a stand-alone module for anyone with an interest in or commitment to equality. To access the equality law eNote log on or sign up at: Each eNote has been jointly developed by TUC policy experts and TUC Education tutors. The eNotes include short videos, quizzes and links to supporting information that make understanding key concepts accessible and effective.

Activity Who does what job? Aims

To help you: understand stereotypical ideas about work identify barriers for working women.

Task 1

Working in groups, look at the list of jobs below and put them into 3 columns: Column 1 – jobs you think of as women’s jobs Column 2 – jobs you think can be done by men or women Column 3 – jobs you think of as men’s jobs Bricklayer Teacher Gardener Solicitor Window dresser Librarian Shop assistant Cook Train driver Chef

Task 2

Plumber Painter/decorator Call centre adviser Car factory worker Carpenter Sewing machinist Nursery nurse Computer programmer Midwife

Electrician Dentist Lorry driver Typist Vet Baker Farm worker Bus driver

Are there any reasons why women could not do the jobs you have listed in column 3? Are there any reasons why men could not do the jobs you have listed in column 1? Indicate which jobs you think are the lowest paid.

Report back


Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

Equal pay and the law The laws that protect your right to equal pay include: The Equality Act (2010) – The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 and the Equal Value Regulations in 1983. The Equal Pay Act is now part of the Equality Act 2010 European Union law – The right to equal pay between men and women for work of equal value is set out in Article 141 of the EU Treaty The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 (now part of the Equality Act 2010) The Part-Time Workers Regulations 2000 The Human Rights Act 1998. Sex discrimination in pay and other contractual terms and conditions of employment is unlawful. European Union law requires women and men to receive equal pay for equal work. Sex discrimination in non-contractual contexts is also covered. The Part-time Workers Regulations protect part-time workers against unfair treatment. The European Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission publish codes of practice, which although not legally binding, may be used in evidence in equal pay claims.

What the law says The law requires a four-stage approach: selecting an appropriate comparator of the opposite sex proving that the comparator is employed to carry out equal work comparing the claimant's and the comparator's terms and conditions of employment assessing whether the employer can explain any discrepancy in pay (‘the material factor defence’) and whether the difference is due to sex discrimination. The Equality Act retains the framework that was previously in place. This means that in most circumstances a challenge to pay inequality and other contractual terms and conditions still has to be made by comparison with a real person of the opposite sex in the same employment. However, a change in the Equality Act allows a claim of direct pay discrimination to be made, even if no real person comparator can be found. This means that a claimant who can show evidence that they would have received better remuneration from their employer if they were of a different sex may have a claim, even if there is no-one of the opposite sex doing equal work in the organisation. This would be a claim under sex discrimination. Equal Pay is highly complex and the legal framework remains difficult, time consuming and expensive for those taking a case. It puts huge pressure on the woman taking the case, isolating her from male colleagues who as comparators may feel personally attacked. The employment tribunal will involve complex arguments and the wait for the outcome can be lengthy.

Single women in their 30s do more unpaid overtime than anyone else.

Collective bargaining and pay reviews which benefit whole groups of workers are a more favourable option.

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If you ask your employer to undertake a pay audit across the equality groups, you should include for each group: all aspects of pay contractual arrangements protection arrangements position on and progression through the pay scales recruitment and promotion additional payments, allowances and benefits. See section on the law for more suggestions on developing an equal pay audit.

A Living Wage The TUC and a number of unions are supporting FairPensions' 'Just Pay' campaign on Living Wages. A Living Wage is the minimum hourly wage necessary for housing, food and other basic needs for an individual and their family. Living Wage rates are based on Minimum Income Standards methodology and take account of real living costs for essential goods and services. Within London, the Mayor's Office announces the Living Wage figure each year – currently £8.30 per hour. Outside London, the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University has calculated a single rate for the regions, which is £7.20 per hour. The aim of the Just Pay campaign is permanently to embed Living Wage standards in the UK's private sector, beginning with the FTSE 100 companies. The Living Wage is an investment which makes sound business sense. Employers who have already implemented Living Wage standards report clear benefits in employee retention, productivity and morale. Guy Stallard, Director of Facilities, KPMG Europe describes it as 'a smart business move'. In a London Economics survey of Living Wage employers, most employers reported significant decreases in staff turnover, substantial savings in recruitment and induction training, and lower rates of absenteeism and sick leave. One employer reported a 25 per cent drop in absenteeism among on-site contractors' staff following the introduction of the Living Wage. Eighty per cent of employers believed that the Living Wage had enhanced the quality of work performed by staff.

Public Sector Equality Duty The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is an important collective tool in advancing equality in the workplace. It is an opportunity as a trade union branch to decide collectively what you want your employer to focus on and try to influence their equality priorities and objectives. The PSED covers all the protected characteristics (except married or civil partner status) and replaces the former race, gender and disability equality duties.


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

The General Equality Duty The General Duty is in s.149 of the Equality Act 2010. It came in to effect on 5 April 2011. The duty has three requirements. It requires public bodies when carrying out all their functions to have ‘due regard’ to the need to: eliminate unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and any other conduct prohibited by the Act advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it; and foster good relations between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it. ‘Having due regard’ means consciously thinking about the above three requirements at a formative stage in any process of decision making by public bodies. It means analysing the impact on equality of different courses of action and taking steps to eliminate or mitigate any negative impact or address any missed opportunities for advancing equality before decisions are finalised. It is an ongoing duty so public bodies need to keep their policies and practices under review and consider amending or adjusting them if discrimination, negative impacts or missed opportunities to advance equality are found. Undertaking an equality impact assessment is the best way to demonstrate ‘due regard’ has been had to equality and unions should continue to press public bodies to carry them out. If a public body refuses to do an equality impact assessment, then you should ask how they intend to demonstrate that they have had due regard to equality. The TUC’s Equality Duty Toolkit includes a model letter to help with this. Note: the duty also applies to non-public sector organisations who are carrying out public functions. For more guidance on what the duty requires and how it can be used by trade unions see the TUC’s Equality Duty Toolkit.

The Specific Duties Regulations The Specific Duties Regulations are intended to support public bodies to meet the requirements of the general equality duty. The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011 came into force on the 10th September 2011 in England. Although the General Equality Duty is Great Britain-wide, the devolved administrations in Scotland and Wales are able to set their own specific duties for Scottish and Welsh public authorities (NB a GB-wide non-devolved public body with an office in Scotland or Wales is covered by the Specific Duties for England). The specific duties in Wales came in to force on 6 April 2011 and specific duties that will apply to Scottish public bodies came into force in 2012.

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The specific duties in Wales are much more detailed and stronger than the English regulations and include: creating an evidence base engagement: involving and consulting people assessing the impact of policies pay difference objectives equality objectives strategic equality plan reporting on compliance with the duty embedding and mainstreaming equality.

Specific Duties The are just two specific duties for England. They require public authorities to publish: information to demonstrate their compliance with the equality duty by 31 January 2012 and thereafter, at least annually one or more equality objectives by 6 April 2012, and thereafter at least every four years. Equality objectives must be specific and measurable. The information required must relate to employees and others affected by an institution’s policies and practices such as service users who share a relevant protected characteristic. The information must be published in a manner that is accessible to the public and can be published within another published document. According to the EHRC’s non-statutory guidance on the equality duty and equality information, the information should cover: the race, disability, gender, age breakdown and distribution of the workforce (grade, job type, contract type, full time or part time, occupation) indication of likely representation on sexual orientation and religion or belief provided that no individual can be identified as a result an indication of any issues for transsexual staff, based on consultation gender pay gap information information about occupational segregation grievance and dismissal information for people with relevant protected characteristics complaints about discrimination and other prohibited conduct from staff details and feedback of engagement with staff and trade unions quantitative and qualitative research with employees e.g. staff surveys records of how you have had due regard to the aims of the duty in decision-making with regard to your employment, including any assessments of impact on equality and any evidence used details of policies and programmes that have been put into place to address equality concerns raised by staff and trade unions.


Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

Other information it would be useful to include, according to the EHRC: return to work rates after maternity leave success rates of job applicants take-up of training opportunities applications for promotion and success rates applications for flexible working and success rates other reasons for termination, like redundancy and retirement length of service/time on pay grade pay gap for other protected groups.

Public Sector Equality Duty under threat The coalition government announced in June 2012 in its response to its Red Tape Challenge that it intended to review the PSED to see whether it was working “as intended”. It talked in the announcement of being committed to equality but also wanting to ensure that legislation is only used when really necessary, suggesting it may consider non-statutory alternatives to the PSED as an outcome of the review. The coalition government has already diluted the Specific Duties Regulations and refused to implement a statutory Code of Practice to support the PSED. The review is likely to be completed and any outcomes consulted upon in 2013.

Further information Statutory Codes of practice on Equality Act 2010, equal pay, non-statutory guidance on the PSED and good practice guidance on equal pay such as the equal pay audit toolkit. – Equal pay oral history archive – TUC Guide to Equality Law 2011, TUC Equality Duty Toolkit Forms and information on how to take an employment tribunal claim. The Government Equalities Office (GEO) website provides the latest information on government policy on equality and updates to the law.

The Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) is an important collective tool in advancing equality in the workplace.

TUC Education eNotes These short, topic-based e-learning modules for union reps and union professionals are available online by registering at There is a short module available on the provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and another on Additional Paternity Leave (APL) as well as others.

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Working Women The Legal Framework – Equality

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Š Jess Hurd/

Nearly two-thirds of women pensioners rely on Pensions Credit.


Pensions Pensions in peril Pensions are currently one of the main negotiating and policy issues facing trade unionists. Both the state pension and workplace pensions have seen enormous changes and many women will not have enough money to live on in retirement. Nearly two thirds of women pensioners rely on Pensions Credit. A report by Age UK and the Fawcett Society called One in Four found that: one in four single women pensioners live in poverty twice as many women as men rely on means-tested benefits in retirement for every pound a man receives from a pension, a woman receives 32p one in five women aged between 25 and 34 are relying on their partner for a pension more than a quarter of women don’t believe it’s worth their while paying into a pension. “One in Four” Pub AgeUK and the Fawcett Society

One in four single women pensioners live in poverty.

As women are more likely to be low paid than men and have had time out of the workplace, their pension will be smaller. According to Rachel Reeves, a former shadow pensions minister, “the average 56 year old woman has just £9,100 of private pension savings compared to £52,800 for men”. Governments are arguing that the proportion of people working and contributing to the system is getting smaller, as greater numbers of people are reaching retirement. Therefore we need to make larger contributions to our work pensions and work longer before we receive either our state or workplace pension. The state pension age for women will reach 66 by October 2020. In addition, the proposal is that the retirement age for women will reach 67 in 2028, bringing it in line with men. This is earlier than planned, leaving thousands of women without any time to plan financially for this change. In late 2012, government plans to raise the state pension age to 67 were brought forward to 2026. There is a calculator on GOV.UK which will calculate your state pension entitlement age:

Pay more, work longer, get less As well as changes to state pensions, women face cuts to their work-based pensions. The government has made changes to how pensions are measured against the rate of inflation which will cut the value of public service pensions. People will also be paying more into their pensions which for many workers will mean about a 50 per cent increase in the amount they pay into their pension. The government also wants to change the age at which you can have your workplace pension.


Working Women Pensions

Women make up two thirds of the public sector workforce and will be the disproportionate losers from these changes.

Part-time workers Although the government has said that there will be some protections for low paid workers – those earning less than £15,000 (full-time equivalent) will not face contribution increases – this means that part-time workers, who are mainly women, will lose out. Public service workers whose full-time equivalent salary is greater than £15,000 but who work part time will still face an increase in contributions. For example, a woman who works part-time in a job where the full-time salary is £22,000 will see her pension contribution almost double. TUC figures show that 806,000 people are caught by this policy and 90 per cent of this group are women.

Pension options for women workers Currently only 13 per cent of women qualify for the full basic state pension in their own right, as opposed to 90 per cent of men. In addition to contributions that all employees must make towards the state pension scheme, governments recommend that working people make other pension provision. Everyone is in the basic state pension scheme. Additional pensions will come from different sources such as occupational pension schemes, stakeholder or personal pensions.

Home Responsibilities Protection (HRP) Home Responsibilities Protection has been replaced for people reaching State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010. From 6 April 2010, parents and carers are able to build up qualifying years through new weekly credits for the basic State Pension and additional State Pension if you are a parent or carer. There will be no limit to the credits awarded to parents and carers after April 2010, as long as you meet the qualifying rules. If you reach State Pension age on or after 6 April 2010, complete tax years of Home Responsibilities Protection you have already built up before 2010 have been converted into qualifying years up to a maximum of 22 years.

Stakeholder pensions This has been an attempt to provide low paid or temporary workers (many of them women workers) with the opportunity to save for retirement. Where an employer has five or more employees and does not offer an occupational scheme they must: designate a registered stakeholder scheme provide information to relevant employees allow representatives of the scheme reasonable access to employees consult with employees and their organisations before selecting or changing stakeholder pensions.

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A stakeholder pension could be a good pension to consider: if you are self-employed if you are not working but can afford to pay for a pension if your employer doesn't offer a company pension scheme if you don't pay into a company pension if you are on a moderate income and wish to top up the money you would get from a company pension. From 6 April 2012 you will no longer be able to contract out of the additional State Pension through a stakeholder pension. If you’re contracted out into a stakeholder pension before 6 April 2012, you will start building entitlement to the additional State Pension from this time.

New pension rules in 2012 Starting from October 2012, all employers will enrol workers into a workplace pension, if they meet the criteria below. When you pay into your pension, your employer and the government will contribute too. Find out how this affects you, when this will happen and the benefits. Your employer will enrol you into a workplace pension if: you are not already in a pension at work you are aged 22 or over

Currently only 13 per cent of women qualify for the full basic state pension.

you are under State Pension age you earn more than £7,475.00 a year you work in the UK.

Discrimination in pensions If your employer provides an occupational pension scheme, it must provide it fairly and without discriminating unlawfully. For example, if you or your partner belongs to a pension scheme that offers benefits to married partners, it must also offer the same benefits to civil partners. If the scheme offers benefits to unmarried heterosexual couples who live together, it must offer the same benefits to unmarried same-sex couples who live together. Under the Disability Discrimination Act, every occupational pension scheme has a ‘non-discrimination’ rule that places trustees and pension fund managers under similar duties as employers not to treat you less favourably if you have a disability or serious health condition. Employers can make rules based on age in the pension schemes they offer without being guilty of unlawful discrimination.

Temporary workers Under the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002, fixed-term workers should not be treated worse than comparable permanent employees in their terms and conditions of employment, including pay and occupational pensions.


Working Women Pensions

Maternity and family leave Employees are entitled to re-admission to the pension scheme after maternity leave. During maternity leave, employees continue to accrue pension rights.

Pensions and divorce In divorce proceedings a Court is required to take your pension rights into account. Couples can choose to: balance the pension rights against another asset, such as the matrimonial home (this is known as pension offsetting), or arrange that when one party's pension eventually comes into payment, a portion of it will be paid to the other party (this is known as pension earmarking), or split the pension at the time of the divorce to give both parties their own pension pot for the future (this is known as pension sharing). Women should seek advice on the best option for their future.

Activity Why do women need pensions? Aims

To help you: identify why pensions are important to women workers decide priorities for your workplace

Task 1

Working in groups, carry out a small survey of women in the group or women in your family. Find out: why people know so little about pension schemes how women lose out in the opportunities to contribute to pension schemes the benefits to women of contributing to a pension scheme the pension schemes women contribute to.

Task 2

What would be the outline of a workplace campaign to raise women’s awareness about pensions?

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Further information on pensions – the government Department for Work and Pensions – the Pensions Regulator –

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists



Working Women Pensions


Š Jess Hurd/

Workers in the UK work the longest hours in Europe, and the UK is the only EU country that allows sta to opt out of the 48-hour limit set by the Working Time Directive. A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Working hours Flexible working “Delivering a positive model of flexibility, giving workers increased autonomy and control over their time, supporting those who are under pressure to balance work and care – all this will help make a real difference to workers and their families” Brendan Barber, TUC General Secretary 2002–2012

UK workers work some of the longest hours in Europe and the labour market continues to penalise those who need to balance caring responsibilities with work. Employers are keen on flexibility when it is driven by them such as rotating shifts, zero hour contracts or casualised contracts, but can be more reluctant to increase choice at the employees’ request. This culture forces women into part-time, low paid jobs which may not reflect their skills and experience and others such as fathers not to ask for flexibility. The family unit is diverse and any agreements on flexibility should aim to include all workers. All types of families need to be recognised from single people with responsibility for a parent or sibling or a gay father who shares the parenting of his child. A survey of 4,500 parents by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Working Better (2009) found that: Childcare is no longer seen as largely a woman’s responsibility. Fathers are no longer necessarily assumed to be the provider. Only 39 per cent of parents thought that their current family arrangements reflected how they had been brought up.

76 per cent of women say they have primary responsibility for their children.

56 per cent thought they could share work and care equally with their partners. Nearly a third of parents feel that they spend too little time with their children – 54 per cent of fathers with children under one stated that they felt they spend too little time with their children. Over half (53 per cent) say their current arrangements are ‘by necessity’ rather than choice. 47 per cent of parents disagreed when asked whether parents have a choice whether to spend time with their children or at work. 31 per cent agreed. 76 per cent of women say they have primary responsibility for their children. 60 per cent of parents think fathers should spend more time with their children. Of the 45 per cent of fathers who haven’t taken up current paternity leave arrangements, 88 per cent said they would have liked to, but nearly half said they could not afford to. Almost 70 per cent of fathers who took paternity leave say it improved the quality of family life, and 56 per cent say it led to them taking a greater role in caring for their children. Only a quarter of women believe that mothers have the same access to good jobs, with 40 per cent of men agreeing. Flexibility at work is important or very important to 88 per cent of women and 66 per cent of men.


Working Women Working hours

48 per cent of fathers, compared with 36 per cent of mothers, stated that flexible working is not available to them. Half of parents think paternity leave should be longer; and a third want it to be better paid. Half of men and 54 per cent of women support the option to transfer maternity leave allowance to fathers, and nearly 60 per cent of men and 67 per cent of women support the proposal for four extra weeks’ leave for fathers. According to the YouGov survey of parents, 38 per cent have some form of flexibility – and 18 per cent have the opportunity but don’t currently take it. 59 per cent of parents achieved their flexibility through informal changes offered with the job or agreed with their employer, without having to make a formal request. The most common reason for working flexibly was that the flexible arrangements were already in place when people started their jobs – more so for men (40 per cent) than for women (31 per cent). The report concludes that although Britain appears to have weaker flexible working legislation than other countries – a right to ‘request’ vs. a right to ‘have’ – in practice Britain has a wider range of alternative ways of working than elsewhere in Europe.

The changing workplace Workers in the UK work the longest hours in Europe, and the UK is the only EU country that allows staff to opt out of the 48-hour limit set by the Working Time Directive. Many employees are not given any choice about working long hours. In fact, most long hours workers would like to reduce their hours. When employees effectively choose to work long hours, the consequences of their actions can impinge on others as well as themselves. The driver who falls asleep at the wheel and kills an oncoming motorist gives them no choice, the workaholic who has a heart attack will leave a family to care for, and the costs to the country for these human tragedies can be considerable. Working patterns have changed drastically too as workers in service industries such as banks, insurance companies and supermarkets offer 24-hour services to the consumer. Public sector workers are increasingly expected to provide services beyond the traditional 9am to 5pm day. Computers, mobile phones and the internet have transformed the way we work and have encouraged the 24-hour culture. Trade unions work to turn these innovations into an advantage for workers with more negotiated agreements on working at home or in offices nearer home. The population is getting older, and larger numbers of fathers and partners want to spend more time with their families or step down as the main breadwinner. Our geographical mobility means family, including grandparents, are often not round the corner so family ‘back up’ support is not an option.

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Requesting flexible working In 2003 the Employment Rights Act 1996 was amended to introduce the right for parents of young and disabled children to apply to work flexibly. In 2007 this right was extended to cover carers of adults. From 2009 the right to apply to work flexibly was extended to parents and carers of children up to the age of 16 or a disabled child under 18. Even if you do not fit into any of these categories you may work for an employer who will consider your case. It is TUC policy that this right should be extended to all workers including those approaching retirement and those wishing to learn new skills. There is a clear process for making these requests which can cover hours of work, times of work and place of work. An application must be considered seriously by an employer. If a request is refused, indirect discrimination can sometimes be established by women, in particular where they can show that an employer’s refusal to allow child-friendly hours is not justified. In addition, a refusal to permit a man to work child-friendly hours when a woman would be allowed is likely to be direct sex discrimination.

Making flexibility work Being aware of tried and tested options for work/life balance is important to the process of agreeing new ways of working.

Today, there are more part-time workers in membership who are typically women and also women working in public sector jobs.

Organisations and individuals will need to ‘pick and mix’ to find the right combination of working time policies for a particular workplace. While a number of options can be introduced at the same time and some will overlap, the options here are presented as ‘individual’ options that can be taken up on that basis and ‘collective’ options which will probably require participation by all or most employees in a particular work group or area. Individual options are: part-time – the most widely used form of flexible working v-time – voluntarily reducing hours for a set period job-share – two people sharing one job term-time working – for parents of school-age children compressed working week – same hours in fewer days working from home – flexibility to better manage your workload time off in lieu (TOIL) – time-off instead of overtime pay time accounts – banking hours for the future. Collective options are: flexitime and flexible retirement – providing choice self-rostering – providing individual control annual hours systems – for organisations working 24 hours every day annualised hours – for continuous manufacturing.


Working Women Working hours

Homeworking Many people now work at home. Benefits include: more flexibility about the hours you work, allowing you to meet commitments at home, like childcare freeing up time and money that might be spent travelling. Drawbacks include: the possibility of feeling isolated and lack of separation between home and work space missing out on office-based learning opportunities your employer may insist that you're available at home during normal working hours, so you may lose some of the flexibility which working from home can give you may have to sacrifice living space to set up a work station some homeworkers are low paid, dependent on employers to provide them with regular work, face financial insecurity and are treated as self-employed. Anyone undertaking working at home should speak to their union to ensure terms and conditions and health and safety issues are being addressed – this can be very important.

Preparing to re-organise work The challenge now is to keep up the momentum to: extend the business benefits of flexible working in the face of a recession extend awareness of flexible working to the workplaces that have not yet embraced change, and ensure that those working flexibly at work are not pushed into low pay and poor prospects.

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Activity Work/life balance – what do women want? Aims

To help you: prepare a questionnaire to use with women workers find out what improvements would improve their Work/life balance.

Task 1

Working in groups, prepare a questionnaire to cover the points below: the numbers of men and women working at your workplace numbers of part-time and full-time workers times of the day work or shifts are completed levels of absence or sickness and the reasons why

Task 2

Prepare a summary of your findings and identify what you might do with the results.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Part-time working – bridge or trap? The UK has one of the highest levels of part-time working in Europe. Evidence shows a significant pay gap between women working full time and women working part time, and also a continuing gender pay gap with women working part time faring particularly badly in relation to men. There is much debate about whether part-time work is a ‘bridge’ or a ‘trap’ for women in the labour market. Part-time work is a ‘bridge’ when it helps someone into employment or when it is used to reduce an individual’s hours and help prepare them for retirement from the labour market. The flexibility offered by this form of employment is also used to facilitate the working arrangements of pregnant women, both before and after the birth of their baby. Part-time work is preferred by many women and can be particularly important in helping women to divide their time between paid work, child rearing or household responsibilities. As in many industrial sectors in the UK (see below), part-time work can also be a marginalized form of cheap labour that traps workers in precarious or insecure employment. This is especially the case where women go into part-time work because no full-time jobs are available, and where missing out on training and promotion pushes these workers into a secondary labour market position in terms of qualifications and income, or lower lifetime accumulation of pension entitlements. The Office of National Statistics figures for 2011 indicate that a record number of people have been forced to work part-time because they have no alternative – up by 83,000 between October and December, to 1.35 million.


Working Women Working hours

The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful for employers and other organisations to treat women or men less favourably because of their sex in the area of employment. The Act does not specifically outlaw discrimination against part-time workers, but it does include a definition of indirect discrimination against women or against married people. Since the majority of part-time workers are women, discrimination against part-time workers can often amount to indirect discrimination against women.

Part-Time Workers (Prevention Of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2000 The aim of the Regulations is to ensure that part-time workers are treated no less favourably in their employment conditions than comparable full-timers, unless this is justified on ‘objective grounds.’ Part-time work is when a worker is contracted for anything less than the basic full-time hours. There is no set number of hours that makes someone full or part time. Part-time workers have the right to be treated no less favourably than comparable full-timers. This means they should: receive the same rates of pay not be excluded from training simply because they work part time receive holiday entitlement pro rata to comparable full-timers have any career break schemes, contractual and parental leave made available to them in the same way as for full-time workers not be treated less favourably when workers are selected for redundancy. An employer must objectively justify the reason why they treat part-time staff differently, and show that this meets a genuine business need. Part-time staff should not be treated less favourably just because they work part time. Types of part-time working include: job-share – where a full time job is divided into two part-time jobs term-time work – where a worker can take time off or work reduced hours during school holidays evening or weekend work casual work or bank work. In order for a claim to be made, part-timers will need to identify a comparable full-timer who is receiving more favourable treatment. There are several tests to establish who is a comparable full-timer. The part-timer must: work for the same employer as the full-timer, and do the same or broadly similar work (taking into account experience and skills where relevant) as the full-timer work under the same kind of contract as the full-timer.

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It does not matter whether the full-time member of staff with whom you are comparing yourself is male or female. Part-time workers who believe that they have been treated in a manner which infringes the Regulations have the right to receive a written statement of reasons for the treatment. The part-timer must submit a request in writing, and the employer must return the written statement within 21 days. Part-timers who still believe they are being treated less favourably, and who are not satisfied that the treatment is ‘objectively justified‘, can make a complaint to an Employment Tribunal. The Tribunal may require the employer to pay the part-timers compensation if it finds in their favour. There is also protection for workers who return part time to a job they previously did full time. Depending on the facts, you may have a case under the Equality Act, or the Part-time Workers Regulations. You may also have a claim under the Equal Pay Act if your complaint is about pay or any other contractual benefit. Under the Equal Pay Act, you have to identify another worker with whom to compare your treatment; this person must be of the opposite sex, and be engaged in similar work, or work which is of equal value. Your union will advise you as to which legislation your case falls under.

Making part-time work more accessible

Part-time workers have the right to be treated no less favourably than comparable fulltimers.

From time to time a worker may ask to be allowed to increase or reduce the hours they work. A number of factors, which an employer could take into account when considering whether to agree to such a request, are set out below. This will make it easier for the employers to know whether part-time working would be advantageous to their organisation. Workers can also request flexibility in the way they work (see section on flexible working) Any worker requesting a change in hours should try to present a strong case as to why this would help the organisation. Part-time work may not always be appropriate so there may be occasions when a request will be rejected. In this case, look for alternative ways of reshaping the job.

Considering requests to work part-time When workers ask to work part-time, it is helpful if their employer has a procedure for handling their request. This could include some of the factors listed below. Even where a recognised procedure exists, there may need to be discussion focusing on the worker's tasks and responsibilities, and how a change in hours can be applied. This may require employer and worker/trade union to invest time and effort in order to work out an arrangement which suits them both. Some of the questions to be asked include: Does someone need to be present during all working hours? Can the post be filled as a job share? Is there a suitable candidate for a job share? Can all the necessary work be done in the hours requested? Can the job be redefined to make it easier to do part-time? Is there another job of similar level which the worker could do part-time? Is the change for a known period? How much would it cost to recruit and train a replacement if the worker left? What benefits would the organisation get from this arrangement? How would this effect the morale and commitment of other staff? 55

Working Women Working hours

Considering a request to increase hours or work full time Although many women workers may be satisfied with working part time, many others would actually like to increase their working hours. In such situations, some of the factors to be taken into account may include: Is there sufficient work? Could the extra hours be used to reorganise a number of jobs more efficiently? Will the increase save money on recruitment?

Other measures to facilitate part-time working In larger organisations it may be appropriate to consider: the cost-effectiveness of providing childcare facilities onsite offering a contribution to childcare costs introducing flexible forms of working, such as term-time working, lunch-time working, flexi-time, and home-working, a parental leave scheme and reduced hours working.

Part-time workers and training Part-time workers should not lose out on training opportunities simply because of their part-time status. In cases where employers cannot tailor the time and location of training to suit part-time as much as full-time workers, a range of other options should be looked at. Measures which might be considered to support the career development of the parttime worker include: paying the part-time worker (at their normal rate of pay) for the extra hours they attend outside their normal working hours offering an equivalent course from an alternative provider at a convenient time and place offering the comparable level and quality of training in another area offering other training methods, such as open or distance learning courses. In a fast-changing job market, it is as important for part-time workers, as for full-time workers, to prepare for their future. Your union should ensure your employer considers all applications for vocational training and career development on their merits. Addressing the career development needs of part-time workers will also help employers to retain their staff and best utilise their existing resources. In certain circumstances, part-time work can offer a form of training in its own right. Workers who are taking a career break, for example parents or carers, can find periods of part-time work a useful way to keep in touch with developments in their organisation. Employers should consider what training, on and off the job, would be most useful for workers in this situation. If handled in a reasonable and sensitive manner, the arrangements outlined above can prove to be a significant benefit to the employer and there is a legitimate ‘business case‘ to be made on behalf of their part-time members. Not only does the organisation keep the services of the worker during the career break, but when the worker returns they will be able to play a full role in the organisation immediately.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Other kinds of contracts Women will also be subject to other kinds of contracts with poor terms and conditions. These include: zero hour contracts, when you do not know from week to week what hours you will be working; fixed term contracts; being employed through an agency or erratic shift patterns. These type of contracts prevent you from planning your week and your finances.

‘Women are increasingly finding themselves on zero hour contracts, having flexibility imposed. You can’t claim benefits because you are technically employed but you can’t get a mortgage because you have no guaranteed wage. It’s outrageous but its making more women join the union to fight it’. Pat Heron, UNISON Chair of the National and Northern Women’s Committee.

Agency Workers Regulations 2010 The Agency Workers Regulations 2010 introduce new ‘Day 1 rights’ which agency workers are now entitled to from the first day of every assignment. Day 1 rights are: access to all facilities and amenities provided for directly employed workers such as canteen, staffroom, childcare facilities, sporting and social facilities. information on job vacancies at the hirers workplace. ‘Equal treatment’ entitlements after 12 weeks in the same job with the same hirer: key elements of pay normal working hours rest periods and breaks annual leave paid time for ante-natal appointments. However equal treatment does not include: sick pay pensions maternity, paternity or adoption pay bonuses which are not connected to individual performance redundancy pay benefits in kind advances in pay or loans expenses share ownership schemes.


Working Women Working hours

Activity Part-time workers Aims

To help you: consider issues related to part-time working identify how trade unions support part-time workers understand why women work part-time at your place of work.


Working in groups, your tutor will allocate the questions for discussion from the list below: 1. Why do so many women in the UK workforce work part time? 2. Does your union: - conduct campaigns on part-time working - provide discounted membership rates - make arrangements to accommodate or support part-time workers? 3. Briefly, describe the legal rights of part-time workers? 4. How can part-time workers in your workplace be encouraged to join the union? What can the union do for them? 5. What ‘challenges and opportunities’ are presented to unions recruiting and organising part-time women workers? 6. Is part-time working a ‘flexible tool’ for unscrupulous employers to avoid creating full-time jobs or a convenient opportunity to help working women balance the various demands society places upon them?

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Further information

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists



Working Women Working hours

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Š Paul Box/

In the UK today women have the right not to be dismissed or made redundant for pregnancy-related reasons.


Maternity, children and caring This section is about how women manage their other roles as parents and carers.

Maternity rights In the UK today women have the right not to be dismissed or made redundant for pregnancy-related reasons. Yet many women take legal action when they are sacked for being pregnant. Others face pay cuts, demotion, victimisation or are forced to work in unsafe conditions.

What the law says about maternity rights The law on maternity rights is being added to continuously and is fairly complex. There are some basic rights, but it is a good idea to check with your union or one of the advice sources listed at the end of this section to ensure that information is up to date and that you have your facts right.

Improved maternity and family policies can result in improved retentions and decreased absenteeism.

The basic workplace rights that apply to pregnancy and maternity are: Mothers-to-be are entitled to paid time off for ante-natal care and a health and safety risk assessment plus adjustments to make the workplace safe for her and her unborn child. Mothers have the right to 52 weeks’ maternity leave. Every woman MUST have at least two weeks off after the birth (four if working in a factory). Maternity leave can start any time from 11 weeks before the beginning of the week when the baby is due. Women who have 26 weeks’ service with the same employer by the end of the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth qualify for Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP) for up to 39 weeks (those who do not qualify are likely to be eligible to claim the Maternity Allowance benefit). When on leave the woman is entitled to all her contractual benefits – including holiday entitlement, company car or mobile phone – but she is not entitled to her normal pay (though some employers top up SMP with contractual maternity pay so women on maternity leave receive their normal, or close to their normal, level of income). If an employer contributes to an occupational pension scheme they must carry on making their usual contributions during any paid period of leave Women have the right to return to the same job after 26 weeks’ ordinary maternity leave and the right to return to the same job unless not reasonably practicable after an extra 27 weeks’ or more additional leave, in which case a suitable and appropriate alternative job must be offered on no less favourable terms and conditions.


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

Taking maternity leave A woman must tell her employer that she is pregnant by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth. The employer needs to know that the employee is pregnant, when the baby is due and when the mother wants to start her maternity leave. A woman can amend her start date for leave provided she gives at least 28 days’ notice. She needs to give eight weeks’ notice of her intention to return to work if she intends to return sooner than her full 52 weeks’ leave.

Contact during leave The employer should keep a woman on maternity leave informed of work developments that may affect her such as any plans to restructure, redundancies, promotion opportunities or internal job vacancies. It is good to agree before going on leave how a woman would prefer to be contacted. A woman is also entitled to work up to ten ‘Keeping in Touch’ days during her leave without this breaking her maternity leave. There is no statutory entitlement to be paid for these days but you should seek agreement that your employer will pay such days.

BT found that flexible working arrangements improved the retention of mothers from maternity leave.

Surrogate parents Someone having a child through surrogacy will not normally be eligible for Maternity or Adoption leave (as it is the mother who is entitled to maternity leave). They will be eligible for unpaid parental leave once they have a parental order.

Stillbirth A mother can still take maternity leave and pay if her child is stillborn after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Redundancy While pregnant or on maternity leave the employer cannot make a redundancy dismissal for any reason connected with pregnancy, maternity, paternity or parental leave. If there is a genuine redundancy situation, a woman on maternity leave has the right to be offered a suitable and appropriate alternative vacancy in the workplace on terms and conditions that are not substantially less favourable than those that applied to her old job. The EHRC and Acas have produced a short guide to dealing with redundancy, pregnancy and maternity: see or

Adoption leave Adoption leave conditions are similar to maternity leave apart from a pregnant worker is entitled to 52 weeks’ statutory maternity leave irrespective of how long she has worked for her employer whilst an adopting parent must have 26 weeks continuous service. Statutory adoption leave is 52 weeks – 26 weeks of ordinary adoption leave and 26 weeks of additional adoption leave. To qualify you must be the child’s adopter, be matched with the child by an adoption agency and have worked continuously for your current employer for at least 26 weeks at the point of the match. Someone becoming a special guardian, adopting a stepchild or having a child through surrogacy or a private adoption agreement will not normally be eligible for statutory adoption leave or pay.

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Working fathers have the right to two weeks’ paid paternity leave within 56 days of the birth or adoption subject to a qualifying period and qualifying conditions including: they are either the father of the child, or the mother’s husband, civil partner or partner (of either sex) the leave is for the care of the baby or to support the mother. In addition all working parents have the right to: 13 weeks’ parental leave each to look after a child (the child has to be under five years old or a child who has been placed for adoption in the last five years but who is under 18 years old) 18 weeks of parental leave each for a disabled child up to until the child’s 18th birthday. Parental leave gives parents the right to take unpaid time off work to look after the child or to make arrangements for their welfare. The government (March 2013) has implemented the EU Parental Leave Directive, which increases unpaid parental leave from 13 to 18 weeks, and gives agency workers returning from parental leave the right to request flexible working.

Foster parents Foster parents do not qualify for parental leave but unions can negotiate time off for workers wanting to become foster carers.

Maternity rights in practice Despite women’s basic legal rights, pregnant women continue to have different experiences in similar circumstances. Some workplaces are fully conscious of the value of working women and have drawn up workplace policies to make sure they do not lose them. Far from seeing pregnancy and working parents as a threat to productivity, their experience is that support has a positive impact on their businesses. Common discriminatory practices in relation to pregnancy and maternity are: Pregnancy being overlooked for promotion or appointments being denied training and development opportunities reference to pregnancy as an inconvenience to the business or a burden on your colleagues dismissal allegedly for poor performance or for pregnancy related sickness being subject to work which will be hazardous to the health of your baby and yourself increased workload and hours. Maternity failure to pay work-related benefits during maternity leave reorganising your job and workplace without consultation being sidelined on return with no attempt to give you back your job or a suitable alternative


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

refusing a maternity leave returner the right to return to work not giving consideration to flexible working or assuming mobility and working hours can be flexible dismissal due to a failure to return to work because of pregnancy-related illness or post-natal depression.

A trade union approach to maternity rights Women who are treated badly during pregnancy, maternity, adoption or parental leave should seek support from their trade union. Trade unions have worked hard to influence the rights of parents and understand that the employer’s reaction can be harmful. More enlightened employers recognise that by supporting parents they get improved retention: BT found that the availability of flexible working arrangements improved retention with 99 per cent of women returning after maternity leave, saving them £5m in recruitment costs. Sainsbury’s and Rank Xerox had a similar experience of improved retentions and decreased absenteeism when they improved their maternity and family policies. The TUC is in favour of: paid parental leave which is flexible and targeted at both mothers and fathers the right to work flexibly for parents and carers of dependent relatives the introduction of a Paternity Allowance, and increasing Statutory Paternity Pay to 90 per cent of average earnings. For more information on family-related leave and pay rights see the TUC’s Guide to Equality Law:

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Activity Organising around expectant and new parents Aims

To help you:: consider the importance of maternity/paternity rights work out an organising campaign.

Task 1

In groups, discuss why maternity rights are of importance to your members. Think about: all categories of workers, including young workers its importance for women in particular how men stand to gain.

Task 2

Take one or two of the following and work out how you can: a) find out how widely and deeply members feel about the issues b) carry out an awareness raising activity c) identify campaigning aims d) deal with counter arguments e) improve current workplace policies.

Further information Health and Safety Executive (Advice on pregnancy/maternity and health and safety) – Infoline provides access to the HSE's health and safety information, and access to expert advice and guidance. 08701 545 500 (8am-6pm) Maternity Action (advice to pregnant women and new parents) – 0845 600 8533


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

Childcare Over recent years the problems associated with finding good quality, affordable, childcare provision have increased to the extent that unions, government and employers recognise the negative impact it is having on individuals and communities. This includes staff morale as well as the ability to work at all. Childcare provision is not only about full-time day-care for pre-school children but can include care for school-age children before and after school; support for sick children or assistance in emergencies; and care for children during evenings, weekends, holidays and when parents are working non-standard hours. The already fragile structure of childcare is under threat. Recent changes, such as childcare tax credit being cut to cover 70 per cent of childcare costs rather than the 80 per cent previously covered and the cuts to day nurseries and childcare offered through children’s centres in many parts of the country, are increasing the pressure. After school clubs and breakfast clubs have been hit by an increase in fees charged by schools and local authorities to use premises. More and more nurseries attached to workplaces are being forced to close. Many unions are involved with campaigns to save workplace nurseries – check websites so you can get involved. The Daycare Trust website – – also gives information on campaigns.

State of childcare today The tenth annual childcare costs survey from the Daycare Trust shows that the cost of childcare continues to rise. The survey, published in February 2011, which is compiled from figures submitted by Family Information Services (FIS) in England, Scotland and Wales, examines by region the cost of childminders, nurseries and after-school club provision, along with the availability of childcare. The survey found significant rises in childcare costs for all forms of childcare. Key findings in 2011 include: In England, the cost of a nursery place for a child of two or over has increased by 4.8 per cent since last year – far exceeding the growth rate of 2.1 per cent for the average wage in the same period. The average yearly expenditure for 25 hours’ nursery care per week for a child under two stands at £5,028 for parents in England, £5,178 for parents in Scotland and £4,723 in Wales. The average yearly cost of 25 hours’ care from a childminder for a child under two stands at £4,670 in England, £4,664 in Scotland and £4,687 in Wales. Costs varied considerably between regions and within regions. London and the South East of England remain the most expensive in Britain for all forms of childcare. In London, the average cost for 25 hours’ nursery care for a child under two is £118.54 (equating to £6,164 per year). In contrast, the same provision in the North West is £82.70 a week (£4,300 per year). The most expensive nursery reported was in the West Midlands, costing £11 per hour. Parents using this nursery for 25 hours per week could pay £14,300 per year (or £28,600 for 50 hours care). Despite a legal duty on local authorities to ensure that sufficient childcare is available locally, 60 per cent of Family Information Services stated that parents had reported a lack of available childcare in their area during the last twelve months.

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The findings also suggest a particular lack of childcare for children aged 12 and over and those with a disability or special educational needs, with only 14 per cent and 11 per cent of FIS respectively saying there was adequate childcare available for these groups. Research by the Daycare Trust also confirms that grandparents are key carers of children, particularly in covering for school holidays.

Childcare and the workplace

Finding childcare is diďŹƒcult for people working atypical hours.

Trade unions continue to raise the importance of childcare provision with employers and government. There is still much to be achieved before childcare provision for women workers in workplaces throughout the UK becomes a reality – many workplace nurseries are closing despite the advantages such nurseries bring. There can be few better ways to retain staff. Although many employers offer taxefficient childcare vouchers, these can affect the amount of tax credits parents are entitled to. They also entail staff making their own childcare arrangements which may be far from the workplace and so workplace nurseries are especially important to parents who work outside normal nine-to-five hours. Trade unions recognise how difficult finding childcare can be for people working atypical hours or weekends. They often have to rely on informal support networks of family or friends. When they do, they can't get help from tax credits or childcare vouchers (which have to be spent on formal childcare) towards the cost of care. According to research in 2010 by the Daycare Trust, about 17 per cent of the population works outside normal office hours. One in 10 parents of dependent children work longer than 40 hours a week, and four in 10 parents work different hours every week. This does not fit comfortably with the work pattern of the vast majority of private or state nurseries, which are typically open from 8am to 6pm and can only offer places to parents who will use them for the same hours and days every week. The Daycare Trust believes only four per cent of women have access to a workplace nursery. One of the few workplaces to buck the trend is the Houses of Parliament, which opened a nursery offering 40 places for the children of MPs, staff and others such as police working in the Palace of Westminster. Describing the decision to open the nursery as a central element of a Commons Commission agenda to promote wider diversity in parliament, speaker John Bercow said: "Our parliament has sadly been behind the times in providing practical support to parents who work here. If parliament is to be truly representative of the community it serves, then it must do more to encourage parents to stand as MPs."

The trade union approach to childcare For over 20 years, the TUC has been calling for quality, accessible and affordable childcare to ensure that parents, especially women, can combine their caring responsibilities with training, education and paid work that suits them and their children. Government initiatives that are making life easier for working parents are welcome. The TUC believes that funding for childcare should be a partnership between the state, the parent and the employer. With funding for childcare organised as it currently is in the UK, employers should be encouraged to play a more active role in supporting the childcare needs of their workforce and within the communities in which they operate.


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

Childcare and child poverty Research from Save the Children and the Daycare Trust (September 2011) found that parents, regardless of income, say that they can't afford not to work, but struggle to pay for childcare. And despite many parents cutting back their spending, almost a quarter have got into debt because of childcare costs. Parents in Britain spend almost a third of their incomes on childcare – more than anywhere else in the world – and such high costs have the greatest consequences for the poorest families. Of those families in severe poverty, nearly half have cut back on food to afford childcare and 58 per cent said they were or would be no better off working once childcare is paid for. The cut to the working tax credit has also dealt a massive blow to hard working families struggling in severe poverty with four in ten of those affected considering giving up work because they will no longer earn enough to cover the childcare bill. The cut has added on average £500 per year on to the childcare bill of low-income families. Other key findings: A quarter of parents in severe poverty have given up work and a third have turned down a job mainly because of high childcare costs – more than twice as likely as better off parents. Of those parents in severe poverty and currently in paid employment the majority (80 per cent) agreed with the statement "Once I have paid for childcare, I am in a similar position to as if I was not working". The majority of parents living in severe poverty (61 per cent) said they were struggling to pay for childcare compared to around a third of parents on higher incomes (37 per cent). Families in severe poverty were twice as likely as better off families to move home because of the high costs of childcare. 26 per cent of parents in severe poverty have been unable to take up education or training because of high childcare costs. 63 per cent of parents, regardless of income, say they can't afford not to work but struggle to pay for childcare. The costs of childcare are on a par with 41 per cent of families’ mortgage or rent payments. A quarter of parents, regardless of incomes, said the cost of childcare has caused them to get into debt.

Don't miss out on free childcare If your child is three or four years old, they are eligible for a free part-time early years place of at least 15 hours a week in England and 10 hours a week in Wales. Some two-year olds are also entitled to free early years places.

Help with costs Make sure you are getting all the financial assistance available to you to help you pay for your childcare costs. If you are a working parent you may get help through Working Tax Credit or employer-supported childcare, or if you are studying there may be help available from your college or training provider.

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Activity Childcare issues Aims

To help you: consider the importance of childcare issues identify how trade unions can improve childcare provision understand how important childcare issues are to parents, employers and trade unions.


Working in groups, your course tutor will allocate the questions you are to discuss or tasks you are to complete from the list below: 1. What are the particular childcare problems faced by working parents at your workplace? 2. What legal rights do employers have in connection with the provision of childcare at the workplace? Is the situation satisfactory? 3. Prepare a brief presentation to encourage an employer to improve childcare provision in the workplace. 4. Prepare a brief presentation to encourage members at a branch meeting to support the union including childcare on its collective bargaining agenda in future negotiations with the employer. 5. Why is childcare such an important issue for women workers? Identify what your union does on the issue to support women in your workplace. 6. Using the information in this section (and any other details you need) develop a campaign on childcare issues to encourage working parents to join the union.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Further information Daycare Trust


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

Rights for carers Women as carers The notion that women are ‘natural’ carers has implications for society and the economy. More and more women are facing the ‘caring squeeze’ where they have responsibility for the care of their children and their parents. Also retired women or women who work part time who are now grandparents find themselves providing substantial childcare for their children who are unable to find or afford decent childcare. It enables employers to use women as a cheap and flexible ‘unit of labour’. The Home Office calculates that the unpaid work that carers and parents do is worth around £277bn annually. The skills that women develop in these roles are generally not recognised or well remunerated by employers. Cleaning and caring are among the lowest paid jobs done by women. Unions believe that a better work/life balance is about changing attitudes and practices. For example, the beginning of a better work/life balance could be struck by parents and carers of dependent relatives having the right to work flexibly and through having access to paid leave. The organisation UK Carers’ figures (2012) state: One in eight adults (around six million people) are carers. By 2037, it is anticipated that the number of carers will increase to nine million. Every day another 6,000 people take on a caring responsibility – that equals over two million people each year. 58 per cent of carers are women and 42 per cent are men. Over one million people care for more than one person. Carers save the economy £119bn per year, an average of £18,473 per carer Over three million people juggle care with work, however the significant demands of caring mean that one in five carers are forced to give up work altogether. The main carer's benefit is £55.55 for a minimum of 35 hours, equivalent to £1.58 per hour – far short of the national minimum wage of £5.93 per hour (2011–2012 figures). People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled 625,000 people suffer mental and physical ill health as a direct consequence of the stress and physical demands of caring. 1.25 million people provide over 50 hours of care per week. There is a good business case for helping carers. Helping carers manage the unpredictability of caring for someone will help manage unexpected absences and help the carer manage their dual role.

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Dependency leave In addition to the legal right to unpaid time to deal with an emergency involving a dependant, many employers provide a period of paid leave. This can come under the heading of dependency leave, family leave, compassionate leave or special leave. It can also sometimes include bereavement, although this is often a separate entitlement. A good policy should also make it clear that same-sex partners and extended family members are covered, where the employee has significant responsibility for them. It is particularly important that workers who have caring responsibilities for elderly or disabled relatives are covered by the provision, given the increasing number of workers with such responsibilities. This will help employees who otherwise might not be able to remain in work. Caring responsibilities could include: assisting a dependant during and after a hospital stay providing support during a move to residential care or during a period of illness adjusting to longer term care needs as a result of illness or accident, or supporting an adult or child with disabilities.

Unions believe that a better work/life balance is about changing attitudes.

Coleman v Attridge Law & Steve Law – the decision and its impact Facts of the case Sharon Coleman's son Oliver was born with a rare condition affecting his breathing and also has a hearing impairment. Ms Coleman brought a case claiming she was forced to resign from her job as a legal secretary after, she claims, being harassed by her employers and being refused flexible working which other employees were granted. Ms Coleman's case is that she was targeted because she had a child with a disability, and was denied flexible work arrangements offered to her colleagues without disabled children. The case went to the European Court of Justice (ECJ). In July 2008, the ECJ ruled that disability discrimination by association is unlawful in the workplace. Ms Coleman's victory before the European Court of Justice has ensured that the UK's disability discrimination law provides protection on the grounds of someone's association (including caring responsibilities) with a disabled person.

Further information – this organisation works with parents and carers and their employers to find a better balance between responsibilities at home and work. – 0207378 4999; Carers line 0808 808 7777 – has practical information for carers and those supporting them. – 020 7840 3350 – a national childcare charity promoting affordable childcare – Gingerbread (helpline: 0800 018 5026) is the registered charity for the support of lone parents in Britain. – 020 7281 7816 – works to end inequality and promote the health and wellbeing of all pregnant women, their partners and children.


Working Women Maternity, children and caring

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Š Janine Wiedel/Photofusion

Women face a double jeopardy because they often work a double shift of paid work and work in the home.


Women and health Bullying and harassment Bullying and harassment of women undermines the rights and health of women workers. They are not ‘a bit of fun’ or ‘having a laugh’ or ’making a fuss about nothing’. The Equality Act 2010 harmonises the definition of harassment, which is applicable to each of the protected characteristics (save pregnancy, maternity and marriage and civil partnerships). Harassment will now take place if a person:

In seven out of ten cases employers fail to include women's health and safety in their policy documents.

engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic which has the purpose or effect of “violating another person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them” (the general rule) engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature which has the purpose or effect of violating the other’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for them (the specific sexual harassment rule), or engages in unwanted conduct of a sexual nature or that is related to gender reassignment or sex which amounts to ‘harassment’ and because of the subjects rejection of or submission to that conduct, treats them less favourably that another person who had not rejected or submitted to that conduct (the less favourable treatment rule). Examples of harassment are: unwanted comments about the way you look requests for sexual favours suggestive comments verbal abuse undermining and humiliating behaviour. It can take the form of criticism, exclusion, isolation and a whole raft of intimidating and undermining tactics for which the bully accepts no responsibility. Bullying often occurs from a position of power. As women are often in a lesser position to male counterparts they run the greater risk of being bullied and harassed.

‘My employer undertakes a staff survey every year, and every year bullying and harassment is a big issue and every year they do nothing about it’. PCS member


Working Women Women and health

Further protection from third party harassment is also in the Act. This means that where any third party (for example, anyone who is not an employer or any of its employees) harasses a person on at least three or more occasions in the course of that person’s employment and the employer failed to take such steps as would have been reasonably practicable to prevent this, the employer could be liable.

The legal framework protecting employees from acts of harassment by third parties originates from case law, including the infamous decision in Burton and another v De Vere Hotels Ltd (1997), commonly known as the ‘Bernard Manning’ case. De Vere Hotels was found liable for the harassment of two of its staff who became the subject of the comedian’s racist and sexist jokes during his performance, despite the fact that he was not an employee of the hotel group. Essentially, De Vere Hotels was held liable for failing to take steps to prevent the discrimination complained of from taking place.

The Act also now extends to cover harassment based on association and perception. Bullying can happen by email or by comments put on a social media site such as facebook or by tweeting. When your boss or others are constantly copied into your emails about work you are dealing with, this can feel undermining and affect your confidence at work. The use of social media to bully is incredibly undermining and exposing as potentially there is a much wider audience. Those who work with the public are much more likely to be exposed to bullying through external sources and employers should act swiftly and appropriately to deal with the bully. Online bullying and harassment should be included in any agreement negotiated with your employer. Well-run workplaces can be just as liable to suffer from bullying and harassment as

“I was a senior manager in local government and told my Director that I would be taking strike action on the pensions dispute. He told me this would reflect very badly on my image. I said bullying trade union members was not acceptable and why should the lower paid members of my team strike on my behalf. He looked uncomfortable but speaking out like that meant I had from then on to be careful in dealing with him.” Unite member

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poorly managed ones. Staff care is becoming more important as organisations increasingly demand an adaptable and flexible workforce. Staff well being is a matter of mutual interest to employers, managers and the workforce. It is important to have an integrated approach to the management of bullying and harassment, violence and stress that is well thought through and planned.

Guidelines and protections against bullying It is not possible to make a direct complaint to a tribunal about bullying. Complaints can be made under laws covering discrimination and harassment. For example: The Equality Act gives protection against discrimination and victimisation applicable to each of the protected characteristics (save pregnancy, maternity and marriage and civil partnerships). Section 2(1) of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 (HSWA) in Britain, and Section 6(1) of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989 (SHWWA) in Ireland place a duty on every employer to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of all thier employees. This includes taking responsibility for the ‘negligent acts’ of employees (e.g. employers would need to put a stop to the behaviour of one employee badly affecting another). The Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994 created a criminal offence of intentional harassment. This occurs if a person, acting ‘with intent to cause personal harassment, alarm or distress’: uses threatening, abusive or insulting language or behaviour, or disorderly behaviour, or displays any writing, sign, or other visible representation which is threatening, abusive or insulting so that another person feels harassed by their employer or colleagues. The Protection from Harassment Act 1997 makes it a criminal offence to pursue a course which amounts to harassment of a person. A court may issue a restraining order and will provide protection in neighbourhood disputes, bullying at work, hate mail and telephone calls, as well as stalking – including internet stalking.


Working Women Women and health

HSE guidelines that help to identify and reduce bullying and harassment at work Step One Employer should first seek to identify potential or actual causes of stress in the workplace. A checklist developed to suit the organisation could be used as a starting point.

Step Two Having identified potential sources of stress in the organisation employers should next determine the perceived level of stress amongst employees. The only way to do this is by asking employees themselves. This may be done by means of a questionnaire to all employees or by asking employees who take sick leave to complete a simple form asking them whether they think their illness was stress related. While the former may be anonymous the latter clearly is not. Employers should also look at their organisation’s relevant policies to see whether they are adequate or whether more needs to be done. For example, employers should check that policies to prevent violence, harassment, bullying and harassment, etc., are actually being implemented and are working. Employers should ensure that managers are properly trained. They should also ensure that employees are provided with training opportunities and that they take them up. Employers should ensure that they provide useful information to employees about their work: e.g. by means of staff handbooks or work manuals and by issuing regular bulletins. In-house journals which concentrate on stories about personalities are not sufficient. Employers should also ensure that they are consulting union representatives on a regular basis about all issues which affect their members.

Remedial Action Once any problems have been identified, remedial action will need to be taken. Some problems may be easy to resolve, others may require a longer term strategy. Priorities for action should be agreed jointly and it should be clear who has responsibility for implementing them and putting them into place according to an agreed timetable.

Reporting and recording procedures The crucial feature of any strategy to reduce the risk of bullying and harassment is an effective reporting procedure. Research suggests that only serious health effects or incidents are reported, the reasons being that: the bullied or harassed person may be frightened by the consequences of reporting the bully there may be doubt in the worker’s mind about reporting the effects of bullying and harassment because there may be a workplace culture, or an individual view, that complaining and reporting implies some professional failing, and inability to cope with the work the effects of bullying and harassment are not considered sufficiently serious there is insufficient time to make a proper written report, or the reporting system is over complex there may be a belief that there is no point in reporting the effects of bullying and harassment because nothing will be done. A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Good workplace policies and procedures should: define and recognise bullying and harassment identify work organisation and staffing issues that contribute to workplace bullying and harassment (e.g. risk assessment) understand how employment law principles and health and safety legislation apply to workplace bullying and harassment make employers aware of what they can do to recognise and eliminate workplace bullying and harassment develop a workplace strategy to inform members about what to do if they witness or suffer bullying and harassment develop integrated workplace policies on bullying and harassment, violence and stress at work understand that bullying and harassment affects everyone and can be seen in a wider context beyond that of a health and safety issue.

What unions can do Only about onequarter of employers make any attempt to address women workers' problems seriously.

Elect an equalities officer, or a women’s officer, who is trained to deal with bullying, harassment and violence to women and is familiar with the procedures for taking action Branches can also have members who act as confidential contacts for members who want to discuss their issue Distribute union literature on these issues to all members and management, so there is clear understanding that: - it will not be tolerated - reporting incidents is essential - confidentiality will be maintained - union and management will act promptly against perpetrators. Seek the help of management and negotiate policies that cover these issues and ensure it is widely publicised among staff with discussions and explanations Ensure that someone in the union checks reporting of incidents and keeps a diary or log of them Work out a strategy in cases where the perpetrator and the person experiencing the problem expect to both be represented Remind management of their legal obligations to maintain a safe and healthy workplace.

Don’t suffer in silence If you are being bullied or harassed at work you should not suffer in silence but should seek immediate advice from your union rep or manager. You should not feel guilty or weak or that you are to blame in some way for inviting bullying and harassing behaviour. Actions that you can take yourself and that will help the union take up your case include: Log all incidents of bullying and harassment – making sure you stick to the facts. Write down your feelings at the time and your own response. If you cannot confront the bully, try writing a memo to make it clear why you object to their behaviour and keep copies of the memo and any written reply. If it is your line manager, keep copies of all annual appraisals, and letters/memos relating to your ability to do the job.


Working Women Women and health

Try to get witnesses to bullying and harassment incidents – try to avoid situations where you are alone with the bully. Find out if you are the only person being bullied or whether other people are also affected and try to make a collective complaint. Talk to colleagues and see if they will support you. If it is your line manager make sure that you are clear about your job description so that you can check whether the responsibilities you are given match it. Your employer should have a policy on harassment or unacceptable behaviour which will cover bullying and harassment – check with your branch. Make sure you keep your union rep informed of all developments. Stand firm and don’t let yourself be a victim. If formal disciplinary proceedings are to be taken against the person responsible for the bullying or harassment, you will be required to give evidence. It may be difficult for you to undertake but you should be fully supported by your employer and your union.

Activity Action on bullying and harassment at work Aims:

To help you: organise an action plan within your workplace to raise awareness of workplace bullying and harassment produce materials and resources to use in the plan.


Look in detail at one area of information for members concerning bullying and harassment. This might include: a poster to put on your notice board to highlight the issue of bullying and harassment at work a leaflet to give to members explaining how you and your union are working to prevent workplace bullying and harassment at your workplace. a motion from your branch to conference on the issue of workplace bullying and harassment an advice sheet for members on what to do if they witness or suffer bullying and harassment a one-day bullying and harassment awareness course for members a checklist for safety and union reps on interviewing a member about bullying and harassment a bullying and harassment incident reporting or recording form any other relevant information. Select one example to work on and make copies for the rest of the class.

Report back

Explain what you have prepared and how you might use it.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Further information

Health and safety Unions believe that when making legislation, or issuing guidelines, measures should be gender-sensitive – taking into account the fact that there are physiological and social differences between women and men. In addition, there are the three biological functions specific to women – menstruation, pregnancy and breast feeding which have implications for health and safety. Women are workers but they are also mothers, sisters, grandmothers, daughters, partners, nieces and grand-daughters. They experience the full cycle of life while they are at work and each stage has implications for the health and safety standards that employers and trade unions should apply. Many conditions are still not recognised as affecting the day to day work that women have to do. They include: pre-menstrual syndrome, period pains, heavy periods from fibroids effects of trying different forms of contraceptive devices pre- and post-natal depression preparing for and the after-effects of hysterectomy effects of Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) the menopause osteoporosis (the breaking down of tissue in the bones).

Stress is the second most commonly reported condition by working women, and the source of most concern.

Many of these conditions can make women feel anxious or depressed and worry about returning to work. Women’s quality of life will be affected by the support they receive. Getting women themselves involved as union safety reps can make a real difference.

Hidden health issues A report from the European Trade Union Institute in 2003, The Gender Workplace Gap in Europe, drew attention to the fact that women's issues are often absent from health and safety policies. The hazards involved are either unknown or underestimated, and priorities are defined in male-dominated sectors and occupations. This failure to take account of women’s health issues in the workplace constitutes a barrier to effective policies on occupational health and equal opportunities. In 2006 a World Health Organisation report further reviewed the issues and highlighted the necessity of strengthening and putting in place more and better programmes and practices to ensure women’s health and safety at work, while facilitating their access to economic and social equality. In the UK, the TUC has identified: More than a quarter of women have to lift or move heavy loads at work. Musculoskeletal disorders associated with heavy lifting, awkward postures and repetitive tasks are by far the most commonly reported work-related illness.


Working Women Women and health

Stress is the second most commonly reported condition among working women but the source of the most concern. One in five women said they were exposed to breathing fumes, dust or other harmful substances at work. Twice as many women as men reported suffering from work-related headache and eyestrain – an estimated 50,000 workers. Nearly three-quarters of these workers attributed the cause to the use of Display Screen Equipment (DSE). The highest rates for work-related skin diseases were in jobs like hairdressing and repetitive assembly – two occupations with high concentrations of women workers. The TUC believes that women, who make up nearly half the workforce, do not have their concerns about health and safety properly addressed: The law on occupational safety and health does not distinguish between women and men’s jobs other than in very specific areas. A gender-sensitive health and safety approach should replace the current gender-neutral system. Not enough account is taken of the physical differences between men and women that have an impact in the workplace. Women’s employment is concentrated in health, education, hotels and restaurants and the retail trade and in three major occupations – clerical/ secretarial, personal and protective services (such as catering and hairdressing) and sales. Their exposure to hazards reflects their jobs, so the health and safety problems facing men and women are different. Women face a double jeopardy because they often work a double shift of paid work and work in the home – and the one often compounds issues resulting from the other. There is still inadequate research into, and consideration of, the specific health and safety issues that affect older women, and those going through the menopause. The TUC is also concerned that: only about a quarter of employers make any attempt to seriously address problems raised by women workers employers often fail to include the health and safety concerns of women workers in the risk assessment process employers do not conduct specific risk assessments for pregnant workers or those who are breastfeeding, and in seven out of ten cases, employers fail to include women’s health and safety in their policy documents. The TUC believes urgent action is needed to correct this gender imbalance. As a result, the TUC re-established it’s Gender and Occupational Safety and Health group (G&OSH), which focuses on a gender-sensitive approach to occupational health and safety and ensuring equal rights to protection for all workers. In 2008 the group produced a gender sensitivity checklist for safety representatives to use to test how well gender issues are addressed in the workplace: (see below for more information.)

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists

Twice as many women as men report work-related headache and eyestrain.


‘I work on a busy reception and suffer from really heavy periods. I try my best to try and arrange my shifts around my periods but it is difficult. I have to leave reception every hour on some days and although some colleagues know my health issues, I really don’t want to tell everyone. I spoke confidentially to a union rep and they helped me manage the conversation with management and now I have flexibility on my duties on the days I need it. Phew.’ GMB member

Gender–sensitive health and safety A number of regulations brought in as a result of European directives have greatly improved standards of work for women and recognise the differences between sexes: Management of Health, Safety at Work Regulations – introduced risk assessment for all jobs and work processes, with a particular section on pregnant workers, requiring employers to make a specific assessment of the risks facing women of reproductive capacity, and to take steps to address those risks. DSE Regulations – introduced risk assessment specific to VDU work, provision for regular breaks and eye tests. Manual Handling Regulations – covers all work involving lifting, lowering, pushing and the moving of any load including people. Also covers risk assessment of jobs taking account of posture, twisting movements or stooping. Many women workers in healthcare are involved in lifting and carrying patients. Work Equipment Regulations – states that equipment should be used for the job intended and take the capability of the person using it into account. PPE Regulations – say that suitable PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) must be provided and take account of ergonomic requirements, the state of health of persons who use it and capability of fitting the wearer correctly. Health, Safety and Welfare Regulations – cover toilet facilities, ventilation, drinking water and other day to day health and safety issues. The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) sets out a clear method of reducing exposure to dangerous chemicals and substances. It also sets out maximum exposure levels (MELs) over which workers must not be exposed. These have been criticised for failing to reflect women’s experiences. MELs are based on limits for male bodies. Women can be affected more because: they have smaller body frames than men and a higher fat content which can increase the effects and absorption of some chemicals they can be doubly exposed through work and at home all exposure limits are based on eight-hour days and five-day weeks – many women have a number of jobs in a day personal protective clothing is not always available for part-time or casual work or is often designed for men and does not fit or has to be shared.


Working Women Women and health

Activity Body mapping and women workers Aims

To help you: identify hazards experienced by women workers decide campaign priorities for your workplace.


Working in groups that reflect different jobs, e.g. cleaning group, office worker group: agree a common use of coloured felt pens to identify different hazards, e.g. pink – repetitive hazards, green – skin hazards, orange – reproductive hazards etc. use the outlines of women’s bodies to mark the hazards that women workers experience. display the body maps on the wall, placing them in groups for similar jobs, e.g. cleaners, office workers etc. Identify if there are any patterns of ill health in each group. What are the top five hazards from the whole group? What could you do to develop a workplace campaign on one of the top five hazards identified?

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Further information

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Health and well-being Social class, employment, ethnic origin and marital status all influence women’s health. What affects women’s health? Access to services: there are many barriers such as lack of information, inadequate public transport and inflexible services. Women as carers: women provide the majority of care and this can be both physically and mentally demanding. Sexual health: women’s reproductive systems are prone to disease and many women have particular health needs related to childbirth. Violence: women are often victims of abuse in the home and this can have an effect on physical and mental health. Low income: many women suffer from the effects of low income and this can cause poor health.

Looking after health Women often put their own health last as they care for others and juggle all the different parts of their lives including work. Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Pressure turns into stress when you feel unable to cope. People have different ways of reacting to stress, so a situation that feels stressful to one person may in fact be motivating to another. Many of life’s demands can cause stress, especially work, relationships and money problems, and when you feel stressed, it can affect everything you do. Stress can affect how you feel, how you think, how you behave and how your body works. Sleeping problems, sweating, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating are common signs of stress. Fitting in time to exercise or relax to combat stress can be extremely difficult. Women are bombarded with images of how they should act and look and this can create huge pressures on how we approach our health. Women sometimes choose to smoke rather than eat to stay thin, or to overeat for comfort; or drink too much to relax after a hard day at work.

Women and mental health Mental illnesses affect women and men differently – some disorders are more common in women, and some express themselves with different symptoms. The mental disorders affecting women include anxiety disorders, depression, postpartum depression and eating disorders. Many women will not admit any mental health issues as they will worry about the reaction of family and work. Trade unions are much more aware of the impact of mental health at work and organisations such as MIND will also provide advice and support.

Women and smoking Many women start smoking when they are young because it makes them look older and more grown up, and continue because they feel it helps them cope with stress and the demands of work and home. But there are severe health effects: One in four smokers can expect to die as a result of smoking. A third of all cancer deaths are caused by smoking.


Working Women Women and health

Women who smoke and use the contraceptive pill multiply their risk of heart attacks and strokes. Smoking contributes to increased risk of cancer of the cervix, infertility and adverse effects during pregnancy. Children of smokers are more likely to get bronchitis, pneumonia and other chest infections. Smoking in the workplace is now illegal so to have a cigarette during work-time means standing outside in the street. This is a great incentive to give up. The NHS now supports people to give up smoking and more information about the programme can be given by your doctor. Not only will you feel better but you will save a significant amount of money.

Women and tranquillisers and sleeping pills Twice as many women are prescribed tranquillisers and sleeping pills as men. They are often prescribed as a quick fix in an under-resourced health service. Many women become dependent on them to see them through the demands of life at work and at home. They are not abusers of drugs or mis-users. Many are coping with life or getting over illnesses. There are however many serious side effects. The National Drugs Helpline (0800 776600) and local groups can offer advice on how to give up these drugs and offer support.

Women and drinking Whether it’s teenage girls binge drinking illicitly, women in their 20s and 30s drinking as part of their busy social lives and careers, or older women drinking more at home, alcohol has become a greater part of women’s lives over the past half century. Women drinking has also become much more socially acceptable, with pubs no longer being male dominated. Then there’s the constant bombardment of alcohol advertising specifically aimed at women. Drinking too much can lead to a range of health problems for women, including infertility and breast cancer. Drinkline – 0800 917 8282 – is a confidential helpline for those concerned about their own drinking or that of someone else. They can direct you to local support services.

Women and eating The focus on women’s physical appearance has created a culture where anorexia and bulimia are now common illnesses. In addition there is the ‘feast or famine’ route of yoyo dieting making a fortune for the beauty industry, diet clubs and cranky fad food manufacturers who prey on the vulnerability of women about their size. Those who can afford it may choose cosmetic surgery as the pressure builds to not only look a certain way but to stay young.

A woman’s right to choose It has been 45 years since abortion was legalised in the UK by the Abortion Act of 1967 and trade unions support a woman’s right to choose. It is legal up to 24 weeks, and there are a number of situations where an abortion may be carried out after 24 weeks, for example where the mother’s health is at risk or there is a substantial risk that the baby is severely disabled. In May 2008 there was a parliamentary debate over whether the limit

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


should be reduced from 24 to either 22 or 20 weeks but it was defeated. In 2011 a group of MPs tried to force women to have independent counselling and this is still set to happen. The abortion debate took centre stage in the failed 2012 US Republican Presidential campaign and this will feed into the movements now picketing abortion clinics throughout the UK. A woman’s right to choose needs to remain an active campaign for trade unions as it is another aspect to the campaign against women’s independence.

The menopause The health of older women at work is seriously overlooked and they remain invisible in health and safety considerations. Negative attitudes to older women can also lead to discrimination and harm women’s physical and psychological health.

Improve well-being in the workplace by changing how work is organised and managed.

Symptoms can include: intermittent periods or heavy bleeding, ‘hot flushes’, sweating, headaches, lack of energy, increased anxiety, depression, fatigue and stress, increased aches and pains, sleeplessness, dizziness, mood swings, irritability, nausea, vomiting, palpitations, urinary/vaginal infections and urgency to pass water and sometimes shortterm memory problems. Some women may require medical advice and treatment such as Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT). This will require time off to visit GPs for advice and treatment. The menopause must be talked about more so that it is not a ‘taboo’ subject and is recognised as a health and safety issue affecting millions of women at work. More women should be encouraged to become safety reps and male reps educated about the issue so that they are not embarrassed and can deal with it sensitively. There needs to be more awareness-raising for staff and management, not just about the menopause itself, but how this impacts on employment rights and workplace policies and agreements. Procedures should be supportive rather than penalising women for menopause-related problems and maintain health promotion for all as part of a wellbeing approach to health and safety at work. Women need to be consulted so that risk assessments can reflect what is really happening to them.

Osteoporosis This is the word used to describe the loss of bone density. It is part of the general aging process but for some women the process is speeded up during and after the menopause. Osteoporosis affects the amount and strength of bone tissue so can make women more susceptible to: bone fracture loss of height back pain reduced mobility following hip or spine fractures.

In vitro fertilisation (IVF) As many as one in six women can have difficulty in conceiving and require fertility treatment. This can be stressful and time consuming. Trade unions should be arguing for reasonable time off for this treatment and that it is not treated as sick leave.


Working Women Women and health

Female cancers Cancers of the womb, cervix and breast (although men also can get breast cancer) also affect many women’s lives and the physical and mental effect will be huge. Supported time off, reasonable adjustments and a phased return to work are key workplace agreements to assist those who have been seriously ill back to work. See Cancer in the Workplace published by the TUC and Macmillan Cancer Support for more information on how a rep can support members.

Disability Many of us will acquire an impairment during our working lives which may affect how we do our jobs. Disclosing a disability can be difficult as there are concerns about how employers and our colleagues will react. Many conditions are covered by disability law including cancers so getting advice from the union about managing any health issues at work is important. Many unions have now negotiated disability leave agreements which mean any absences from work related to a disability are counted separately from other sick leave.

Campaigning for improvements Union reps can: invite speakers on women’s health to meetings and organise workplace campaigns request mobile screening units to visit the workplace or when on one site, make them available to a group of workplaces campaign to secure more funding for breast care services and research lobby MPs, local councillors and write to health authority representatives. Our lives are busy and a good way to get women involved in the branch is to organise something practical such as a yoga class, a book group or a health walk at lunchtime or at the end of a shift. This way, women get to know each other and from this shared activity you can encourage more women to get involved in the branch – delivering the branch newsletter, giving out recruitment leaflets to new people in their department, staffing a stall at weekends to campaign against the cuts or taking a position on the branch committee.

Things to find out How would you use women’s concerns about health to encourage more women to get involved in the union? What campaigns could you develop locally? What activities could you introduce?

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Further information Cancer in the Workplace developed in partnership with Macmillan and available from TUC Education Work and Well-Being: a trade union resource available from TUC Education

Violence One in five people at work are attacked or abused every year just for doing their job. Every week people are abused, threatened and hurt simply because people they have to deal with as part of their job become violent. Many receive major or minor injuries, but the psychological effects – stress, depression, even fear of work, can be even worse. More than three million working days are lost due to violent incidents at work every year. The cost to industry of this lost time, lost production and compensation is considerable. The TUC uses the Health and Safety Executive's definition, which is "Any incident in which an employee is abused, threatened or assaulted by a member of the public in circumstances arising out of the course of his or her employment." This means verbal abuse or threats count just as much as a physical attack. It can come from people you already know as well as strangers. Teachers can be threatened by their students and patients can attack nurses or carers. Passengers caught without tickets can turn on railway staff or someone denied benefits can take it out on the civil servant who has to give them the news. Whatever the cause of the violence, your employer has a duty under health and safety law to protect your health, safety and welfare while you are at work. This means that they must assess threats to their staff and work out how they will eliminate or minimise them. All employers must have proper systems for managing health and safety, and these should cover threats of violence just as they should any dangerous chemicals on their premises. Some violent incidents cannot be predicted but many are foreseeable. Employers have a responsibility to identify these and seek to prevent them.

What unions want employers to do about violence Where a real risk exists, employers have a legal duty to: identify any hazards to the safety of workers arising from their jobs plan measures to remove hazards and reduce risks train and inform all workers affected. The risk of violent attack at work should never just "go with the job" or be blamed on bad luck, or even worse, the victim.


Working Women Women and health

What reps can do about violence If you are subject to physical attack or verbal abuse at work, however 'minor', report it to your manager or supervisor – preferably in writing. Even if you do not make a written report, keep a note for yourself setting down the nature of the incident, who you reported it to and whether action was taken. This will be important later if you want to convince your employers that there is a pattern of violence at your workplace or, if an attack means that you have to go to court either to get compensation or to act as a witness in criminal proceedings.

Violence to Staff Action Plan Step one – find out if there is a problem. Ask staff whether they feel threatened or under stress and tell them the results of the survey; Step two – record all the incidences in order to build up a picture of the problem. Records should include what happened, where, when, who was involved and any possible causes. Employees should be encouraged to report all incidents. Step three – classify all incidents. Detail the place, time, type of incident, who was involved and the possible causes in order to identify any patterns; Step four – search for preventative measures. The way jobs are designed can reduce the risk of violence, but measures will vary according to particular workplaces; Step five – decide what to do. This should involve employees and should balance the risk to employees against possible side effects to the public. Step six – put the measures into practice, and include them in the safety policy statement so that staff are aware of them; Step seven – check the measures work, and if violence is still a problem go back through step two and three to identify other measures. Source: Health and Safety Executive leaflet

Domestic violence In 2004 the government introduced a single definition of domestic violence. It is not a statutory definition but it is used by all government departments to inform policy on domestic violence: “any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional) between adults who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender or sexuality.” The government is currently consulting on whether to extend the definition to include coercive control and include those who are 16–17 years old or all under-18s.

Extent of the problem According to Women’s Aid, at least one in four women experience domestic violence in their lifetime and between one in eight and one in ten women experience it annually. Less than half of all incidents are reported to the police but they still receive one domestic violence call every minute in the UK.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


The vast majority of the victims of domestic violence are women and children, and women are more likely to experience repeated and severe forms of violence, and sexual abuse. Women may experience domestic violence regardless of ethnicity, religion, class, age, sexuality, disability or lifestyle. Domestic violence can occur in a range of relationships including heterosexual, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender relationships and also within extended families. Abusers choose to behave violently to get what they want and gain control. Whilst it can be hard to understand why a person would stay it is often more frightening to try and leave and many victims do not know where to go and where to ask for support.

Stalking On 8 March 2012 the Prime Minister announced “Stalking is an abhorrent crime. It makes life a living hell for the victims – breaking up relationships, forcing the victims to move house, making them feel they are being watched 24 hours of the day. That is why we are criminalising stalking, to make sure justice is done, protect the victims and show that stalking is a crime.” A Downing Street source added: “Stalking will carry a sentence of six months and stalking with violence a maximum of five years.” The British Crime Survey suggests 120,000 people are stalked a year, with many claiming their concerns are not taken seriously by the authorities. A mere two per cent of reported offences – 1,190 – resulted in a custodial sentence. England and Wales are to follow the example of Scotland, where a specific offence of stalking was created in December 2010 punishable by up to five years in jail. More than 400 people were prosecuted in the first year.

Digital stalking Women’s Aid have teamed up with national stalking charity Network for Surviving Stalking to launch a practical guide for victims of stalking: Digital stalking – a guide to technology risks for victims. It explains the wide range of technological risks for those being stalked including use of spyware on personal computers, tracking devices on mobile phones and tracking information through social networking sites. Stalking by ex-partners accounts for the largest group of victims and women are most at risk from physical assault and fatal harm.

Domestic violence affects work Domestic violence does not stay behind closed doors and its devastating effects do not stop when someone enters the workplace. Women workers, unions and employers can play an important role in identifying whether a colleague is experiencing violence at home and offering support to the victim through the difficult period. Domestic violence: will impact on the children and create further anxiety and stress will make it harder to keep a job due to lack of confidence, nervousness, repeated crying, lack of sleep, lack of concentration and a loss of interest in the job will mean time off due to being attacked.


Working Women Women and health

Victims of domestic violence suffer on many levels – health, housing, education – and lose the freedom to live their lives in the way they wish, and without fear.

What unions can do about domestic violence Trade unions can support members by negotiating workplace policies to support and assist workers suffering domestic violence. Many unions have checklists to help reps plan the content of policies. Such policies can include: special paid or unpaid leave pay – money may be tight and advances in pay may help relocation – requests to be redeployed or relocated for safety reasons providing access to appropriate, confidential and independent professional counselling information about local help and support ensuring employees' confidentiality is protected if they raise this issue in the workplace raising awareness of the issue in the workplace ensuring that women workers know about the policy campaigning for better services for victims of domestic violence, including training for workers working with campaign groups to raise public awareness lobbying for government action to address the problem and improve services providing emergency support through union or employer welfare schemes and ensuring that help lines, emergency numbers such as local social services emergency duty team or local police contact numbers, are displayed in the workplace. Women's Aid is the main national agency for women and children experiencing physical, sexual or emotional abuse in their homes. If anyone is suffering domestic violence and needs urgent help, you can refer them to the Women's Aid Helpline: 0808 2000 247.

Campaigns End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW) The TUC is an active member of End Violence Against Women (EVAW), a coalition made up of organisations tackling violence against women, alongside the Women’s National Commission and Amnesty International (UK). As a member of the coalition, the TUC identifies a broad focus on the issue of violence against women as the most effective and coherent way of tackling both domestic violence and other gender-based violence endured by girls and women. In the UK, violence includes, but is not restricted to: domestic violence, rape and sexual violence, stalking, sexual harassment, forced marriage, female genital mutilation, so called ‘honour’ crimes and killings, trafficking and forced prostitution.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Reclaim the Night The TUC is a supporter of ‘Reclaim the Night’, the national, annual march which affirms women’s rights to use public spaces without fear and raises awareness of the threat or reality of rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment that women have to negotiate. Further information about the march can be found at the Reclaim the Night website:

International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women – 25 November Women's activists have marked this as a day against violence since 1981. The date commemorates the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on the orders of Dominican ruler Rafael Trujillo (1930–1961). Recent TUC actions on this day have included calling on the UK government to sign the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention on the elimination of violence against women.

International work Tackling violence against women takes a central place in the TUC’s international work. Violence against women restricts women’s life chances and opportunities around the world. In particular, violence against women is frequently used to suppress their political rights. The TUC works with trade unions around the world to support their ongoing struggles for human rights and women’s rights and has placed particular focus on Colombia, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and Ethiopia. Violence against women is particularly acute in conflict zones where women and girls find themselves on the frontline.

Activity Women and violence – making the union case Aims

To help you: consider women and violence as an issue for unions make the case for action.


1. In groups, work out the union case for acting against violence to women. Things to think about: factors that make violence against women a workplace issue factors that make violence against women a union issue your union policy on the issue workplace policies that may exist action the union could take – see the checklist above (What unions can do) for ideas. 2. List the key points you would want to make in putting the union case to either members or your employer.


Working Women Women and health

Further information Abortion rights is the UK’s national pro-choice organisation, campaigning to defend and extend women’s rights and access to safe, legal abortion. Action on Elder Abuse Astral House, 1268 London Road, London, SW16 4ER Tel: 020 8765 7000 This organisation aims to prevent abuse in old age by raising awareness, providing education and promoting research. Helpline: 0808 2000 247 Email: Official government webpages about domestic violence freephone helpline 0808 802 9999 (12 – 2.30pm and 7 – 9.30pm) Rape Crisis (England & Wales) BCM Box 4444 London WC1N 3XX Email Rape Crisis (England & Wales): For mental health and stress advice and support contact – Reclaim the Night website: EVAW: This supports girls and women as they take control of their lives.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists



Working Women Women and health

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


© Justin Tallis/

Young women’s aspirations are changing. They do well at GCSE and A level at school. Balancing a desire to have a family and a satisfying job can influence the choice of job at a very early stage. But that does not mean women always follow more traditional female-friendly choices.


Learning, training and leadership The right to learn Decisions made at school can open or close future career and work possibilities. Young women’s aspirations are changing and it is well documented that young women do well at GCSE and A level at school. However, balancing a desire to have a family and a satisfying job can influence the choice of job at a very early stage and lead women into more traditionally female friendly choices.

Women are well represented in learning rep roles.

Accessing education opportunities later in life is a challenge for most women. This can be not only for themselves but for their families. Women are more likely to be mature students and changes to the funding of further education will impact on women the most. Changes to the arrangements which help access to education, such as the abolition of the education maintenance allowance, changes to Care to Learn (the support for mothers under 20 years old) and the uncertainty over English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) has made it even harder for women. Those who want to continue into higher education have to manage the huge increase in tuition fees. More than 40 per cent of female students are over 25 compared to 36.7 per cent of male students. Research also suggests that mature students are more likely to be put off higher education by increased fees. 60 per cent of students with children have considered leaving their course as a result of difficulties to do with finances, childcare and inflexible course arrangements.

Union Learning Fund The Union Learning Fund (ULF) was created in 1998 with the aim of promoting activity by trade unions in support of the objective of creating a learning society. The Fund has involved more than 53 unions in over 700 workplaces and has helped people to access over three quarters of a million learning opportunities. ULF aims to: embed learning and skills as a key activity for trade unions develop the role of union learning reps provide the framework to support high quality information, advice and guidance on learning and skills opportunities help unions form active partnerships with employers and learning providers.

The role of union learning reps A new type of union activist, the union learning representative (ULR), has been instrumental in raising interest in training and development, especially among the lowest skilled workers and those with literacy and numeracy needs. Union learning reps are entitled to paid time off to carry out certain duties. The union has to give the employer written notice that the employee is a learning rep and that the training requirements have been met. The activities of a learning rep can cover:


Working Women Learning, training and leadership

analysing learning or training needs providing information and advice arranging learning or training promoting the value of learning or training consulting the employer preparing to carry out any of these activities. The TUC has produced a briefing on the code of practice drawn up by the advisory and conciliation service ACAS on these rights. This advises that the amount and frequency of time off should be reasonable, taking into account issues such as the size of workplace and production and service needs, as well as the need for safety and security at all times. Employers in turn should have in mind potential difficulties for reps in communicating with all members, for example where there are part-time workers, shift workers, workers in dispersed locations and workers with domestic responsibilities. Employees who are members of recognised trade unions are permitted to take time off during working hours to access the services of a learning rep. This is important as many women have not had the opportunity to find out about learning opportunities, or to learn, due to family commitments. They are sometimes worried by the demands being placed on them in many services to achieve educational standards such as National Vocational Qualifications (NVQs) or other qualifications relevant to work. However there is no obligation on the employer to pay such employees for the time spent on accessing such services.

The right to request ‘time to train’ If you are an employee and you work in an organisation with 250 or more employees you have the statutory (legal) right to request time for study or training. This right is known as 'time to train'. You do not have to use the right for every training request. If you already have a system with your employer for making training requests you can continue to use that. To make a statutory request for 'time to train' you must: be an employee have worked for your employer continuously for at least 26 weeks before you apply. You will not be able to make a request for 'time to train' if you are: an agency worker a member of the armed forces of compulsory school age ('school age' in Scotland) a young person who already has a statutory right to paid time off to undertake study or training 16–18 years old and already expected to take part in education or training.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Activity Choices for women to learn Aims

To help you: understand why women’s work and skills are often undervalued understand why many women miss out on learning opportunities. identify opportunities for women to learn.

Task 1

Working in groups, list some of the reasons for the above.

Task 2

Look at the learning initiatives and programmes on the unionlearn website. List the ones you know about or already have at work. What training/education have you received? Was it what you wanted to do? How useful has the training been that you have received? How did it help you? Identify what you would like to do next.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Presenting an argument One skill that all workers and trade unionists need regardless of their job is the ability to present an argument or position. This could be requesting the right to flexible working, or it may be moving a motion at a union conference. There are simple rules to follow which you can use as guidelines depending on the circumstances: Plan what you are going to say – keep it simple Choose two or three good points –saying too much will confuse your audience Consider your conclusion first – you want your most important points to be the last thing that people hear Use your feelings to catch your listeners’ imagination, add examples from your own experience and back up your views with one or two relevant facts and figures Use body language to reinforce your message – look at the people you are addressing Repeat your message Remember to tell them – what you are going to tell them (introduction) – message – what you told them (summary).


Working Women Learning, training and leadership

There are so many ways to communicate now through for example email, facebook, Linkedin, blogs or Twitter. Think about using these social media outlets to keep in touch but it is important to be clear in any communication: What is your objective in communicating? Who do you want to inform or influence? What is the best way to communicate? Are there deadlines or critical dates to take into account?

Further information Unionlearn: Telephone: 020 7079 6920

Women in leadership Women are skilled at multi tasking – balancing work, family, friends, social activities and education. These skills are often transferred into the workplace and women have traditionally thrived in support roles where they juggle other people’s diaries, meetings and commitments with efficiency and confidence. Most women know that they could do more than this but the effort that is needed to succeed seems considerable. The level of participation of women in decision-making and sharing of power between men and women is still unacceptably low and calls into question the basic principles of democracy. According to the Fawcett Society report ‘If we are not at the table, we’re on the menu’ (November 2011). Things to think about: Companies with more women on their boards were found to outperform their rivals with a 42 per cent higher return in sales, 66 per cent higher return on invested capital and 53 per cent higher return on equity. Women’s average representation in the business world stands at a derisory 10.2 per cent and only 14.2 per cent of Directors in FTSE 100 boards are women. Only 15 per cent of High Court Judges are women and there is only one female Supreme Court Justice, Baroness Hale. Women are more likely to find positions of power and influence in the public and voluntary sectors: women make up 48 per cent of Chief Executives in the voluntary sector. Women account for the majority of full-time teachers but just over a third of secondary school head teachers. The shrinking size of the public sector (2012) will jeopardise women’s employment and the private sector has consistently failed to adapt to women’s maternity and care needs. The glass ceiling is still solidly in place and we as trade union women need to work together to smash it to smithereens. The trade union movement now has 15 women general secretaries of 53 TUC affiliated trade unions. There are four women at the helm of unions in the 10 biggest affiliates: Mary Bousted at ATL, Christine Blower at NUT, Sally Hunt at UCU and Chris Keates at NASUWT. Outside the top 10, and leading two medium-sized unions, are Michelle Stanistreet at NUJ and Christine Payne at Equity. A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


At the current rate of progress it will take another: Thirty years to achieve an equal number of women senior police officers Seventy years to achieve an equal number of women directors in the FTSE 100 Fourteen elections or up to 70 years to achieve an equal number of women MPs. Men outnumber women four to one in Westminster.

Understanding leadership Despite the increasing numbers of women in work and in trade unions, the visibility of women in senior level positions remains low. The current definitions and much of the established literature on leadership are written by men. This in itself shows the lack of involvement of women in defining what they do in their leadership roles and what makes a leader.

Women are skilled at balancing work, family, friends, and education.

There are many definitions of leadership depending on what and who is being led: e.g. team leadership, strategic leadership or management and leadership. There is also leadership in trade unions whether at workplace level, union branch or committee level or national level.

Leadership and management Leadership is different to management. If leadership is about where we are going – management is about how to get there. All leaders are not necessarily great managers, but the best leaders will possess good management skills. One skill set does not automatically imply the other will be present. There are valuable elements of management not necessarily found in leadership, e.g. administration and managing resources. Leadership on the other hand contains elements not necessarily found in management, e.g. inspiring others through the leader's own enthusiasm and commitment.

Quick discussion Which of these traits do you associate with women and which ones with men? Choose a female leader you admire and identify which of these traits you think this person has? Do you think women and men approach ‘leading’ differently?

Leading in groups Psychological testing shows that generalisations can be made about the way that men and women behave in groups. We know that women: do more listening to what others have to say are more likely to give others time to learn build and hold together a team well are practised at building networks, at keeping in touch whether in the family or in the community are more inclined to seek and find agreement find face to face conflict difficult.


Working Women Learning, training and leadership

We know that men: are more confident of their ability tend to do more talking than listening are less likely to reach agreement in a group will be more forceful, hold onto an argument cope more easily with face-to-face conflict. Many characteristics of leadership are those which are considered to be more typical of men but increasingly it is recognised that this is not the case. Emotional intelligence is recognised as a great and essential trait for leaders.

Women make up 48 per cent of chief executives in the voluntary sector.

Characteristics of emotional intelligence Daniel Goleman an American psychologist, developed a framework of five elements that define emotional intelligence: 1. Self-awareness – People with high emotional intelligence are usually very self-aware. They understand their emotions, and because of this, they don't let their feelings rule them. They're confident – because they trust their intuition and don't let their emotions get out of control. They're also willing to take an honest look at themselves. They know their strengths and weaknesses, and they work on these areas so they can perform better. Many people believe that this self-awareness is the most important part of emotional intelligence. 2. Self-regulation – This is the ability to control emotions and impulses. People who selfregulate typically don't allow themselves to become too angry or jealous, and they don't make impulsive, careless decisions. They think before they act. Characteristics of selfregulation are thoughtfulness, comfort with change, integrity, and the ability to say no. 3. Motivation – People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are usually motivated. They're willing to defer immediate results for long-term success. They're highly productive, love a challenge, and are very effective in whatever they do. 4. Empathy – This is perhaps the second-most important element of emotional intelligence. Empathy is the ability to identify with and understand the wants, needs, and viewpoints of those around you. People with empathy are good at recognising the feelings of others, even when those feelings may not be obvious. As a result, empathetic people are usually excellent at managing relationships, listening, and relating to others. They avoid stereotyping and judging too quickly, and they live their lives in a very open, honest way. 5. Social skills – It's usually easy to talk to and like people with good social skills, another sign of high emotional intelligence. Those with strong social skills are typically team players. Rather than focus on their own success first, they help others develop and shine. They can manage disputes, are excellent communicators, and are masters at building and maintaining relationships.

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Getting more women in leadership: what will it take? Women need to be more involved in re-defining what leadership is, what particular skills women bring and, most important, what helped them along the way. Ways in which the situation can be improved are through: organisations and individuals publicising women leaders and what they have achieved, the difficulties they faced and how they overcame them organisations supporting women to think of themselves as leaders – this may involve mentoring, training, discussion groups, visiting speakers organisations using quotas or positive action and skills development to increase the number of women involved providing and publicising more role models developing women’s networks and support groups and inviting new women along with someone to accompany them (in Austria they call them ‘rope teams’ which conveys a strong image of being supported and very much tied together) mentoring and coaching other women or seeking mentoring or coaching for yourself. These are effective ways to develop new skills and identify the skills we already have: Make alliances with as any groups who share your objectives and values so your networks are far reaching. Representing women’s interests at every opportunity increases our voice and our visibility. Recognise women’s diversity and encourage ALL women to become leaders. Carry out gender checks on groups and organisations to see where women are not involved and make changes to improve this.

Activity Gender-check your organisation Aims

To help you: review how sensitive to gender your organisation is determine strengths, weaknesses and areas for improvement.


This activity can be used to gender check any organisation e.g. company, department, committee, trade union. Working in groups, discuss the following questions and try to agree where the strengths and weaknesses are and decide where improvements are needed.

Report back


Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Working Women Learning, training and leadership

Gender check on…………………………………………. (Name of organisation)

We have enough information about women to assist our decision making

What needs to be improved

Rarely/occasionally/usually/always Women are featured in reports and other publications produced by our organisation Rarely/occasionally/usually/always All written publications and agreements use gender sensitive language Rarely/occasionally/usually/always Women are represented at each level of our organisation Rarely/occasionally/usually/always There are clear overall policies which are specific to women Rarely/occasionally/usually/always These policies guide our activities Rarely/occasionally/usually/always Women are treated as a separate group for our activities Rarely/occasionally/usually/always Women in the organisation contribute to planning Rarely/occasionally/usually/always We recognise women’s needs may be different. When making decisions or setting goals we think of the impact of our activities on women Rarely/occasionally/usually/always We have feedback on the impact of our activities from women Rarely/occasionally/usually/always We have enough information to evaluate the effects of our activities on women Rarely/occasionally/usually/always

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists



Working Women Learning, training and leadership

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


© David Bacon/

United Nations figures show that women all around the world experience the same discrimination, just to different extents.


International Solidarity Trade unions support people around the world in their struggle to achieve decent healthcare, education, employment, freedom from persecution and discrimination and the right to decide how they are governed. Global campaigns include: cancelling of debt for developing countries combating world poverty supporting other trade unionists against injustice and discrimination aid: supporting people who are affected by life-threatening disasters.

Women in the world Worldwide, on average, only one in six Cabinet ministers is a woman.

Nowhere in the world is the quality of women’s lives equal to that of men. United Nation figures The World’s Women 2010 show that women all over the world experience the same discrimination to different extents.

Key findings on work Globally, women’s participation in the labour market remained steady in the two decades from 1990 to 2010; the gender gap in labour force participation remains considerable at all ages except the early adult years. Women are predominantly and increasingly employed in the services sector. Vulnerable employment – own-account work and contributing family work is prevalent in many countries in Africa and Asia, especially among women. The informal sector is an important source of employment for both women and men in the less developed regions but more so for women. Occupational segregation and gender wage gaps continue to persist in all regions. Part-time employment is common for women in most of the more developed regions and some less developed regions, and it is increasing almost everywhere for both women and men. Women spend at least twice as much time as men on domestic work, and when all work – paid and unpaid – is considered, women work longer hours than men do. Half of the countries worldwide meet the new international standard for minimum duration of maternity leave – and two out of five meet the minimum standard for cash benefits – but there is a gap between law and practice, and many groups of women are not covered by legislation.

Key findings on power and decision making Becoming the head of state or head of government remains elusive for women: Fourteeen women in the world currently hold either position. There are just 23 countries where women comprise a critical mass – over 30 per cent – in the lower or single house of their national parliament. Worldwide, on average, only one in six Cabinet ministers is a woman.


Working Women International Solidarity

Women are highly under-represented in decision-making positions at local government levels. In the private sector, women continue to be severely under-represented in the top decision-making positions. Only 13 of the 500 largest corporations in the world have a female Chief Executive Officer.

The European Parliament and Commission have been key in promoting rights for women. The 1957 Treaty of Rome includes Article 119 on equal pay. Since 1975, 14 directives on gender equality have been passed in the areas of employment, equal pay, maternity leave and sexual harassment.

European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC): Established in 1973 84 cross-industry confederations in 36 countries 12 European industry federations 60 million workers – 45 per cent female. Commitments: - Combat social exclusion, poverty, inequalities and all forms of discrimination - Recognise diversity in the world of work and strengthen solidarity between groups of workers - Analyse and tackle prejudice in trade unions and union structures.

ETUC gender action plan 2012: Implementing gender mainstreaming into all ETUC policies Achieving equal pay between women and men Eliminating gender representation gap in decision-making bodies Promoting the combination of work, family and private life Addressing the link between domestic violence and workplace rights.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


The Millennium Development Goals In setting targets to aim to halve world poverty by 2015, the world’s governments recognise some of the special issues affecting women’s life chances. Their targets include to: promote gender equality and empower women. Preferably by 2005 girls should have the same chance as boys to go to school reduce child mortality. Reduce by two thirds the under five mortality rate by 2015 improve maternal health. The proportion of women dying as a result of childbirth must fall by 75 per cent – by 2015 combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Activity Working conditions for women worldwide Aims

To help you: find out about women working worldwide use different information sources start or join in a campaign to improve conditions for working women worldwide.


Working in small groups or pairs, choose an issue you want to campaign on – for example: employment rights trade union rights right to education or health violence against women such as female genital mutilation. Use the internet to find out more about your area of interest and any facts which will support your case. Prepare a short presentation or a display to illustrate what you have found. What else could you do to promote and publicise the conditions that women work in worldwide?

Report back


Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

Working Women International Solidarity

Equal Pay Day The average European woman had to work an extra two months – until 5 March 2011 – to earn the same income as her male counterpart earned in 2010. In Germany she had to work until 25 March; in Estonia until 23 April. The European Union held the first European Equal Pay Day in 2011.

Celebrate International Women’s Day on 8 March In the early part of the century, American women had the idea of a special day for women linked to their right to vote. In 1909 they held the first Woman’s Day with women taking part in mass meetings across the country. In 1910, a conference of women from around the world from 17 countries met in Copenhagen and Klara Zerkin proposed to ‘internationalise’ Women’s Day. International Women’s day was supported for the first time in China in 1924 and in Britain in 1926 and thereafter on 8 March in growing opposition to fascism. After the Second World War, Britain, like many other countries, stopped celebrating International Women’s Day until in 1971, a demonstration of 5,000 women in London drew attention to the demands of the Women’s Liberation Movement. Since then, women activists and trade unionists have organised an event on 8 March or during that week to publicise issues of women’s rights. By getting together, women have gained courage and inspiration to stand up for their rights in the workplace, community and home. It has also built links between women working worldwide as women make special efforts to contact each other on this day and unite around common objectives.

Activity International Women’s Day – 8 March Aims

To help you: plan an activity for International Women’s Day support women worldwide.


Working in groups, plan an activity that you could organise for International Women’s Day. This might be: an education activity a social event a quiz a speaker a film other. Decide what needs to be done to publicise your event.

Report back

Elect a spokesperson to report back to the whole group.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


TUC Aid TUC Aid is a trade union charity for working people in need throughout the world. It has often been able to support women and children in difficult circumstances by: contributing to long-term development programmes providing substantial humanitarian relief swiftly in emergencies assisting through education the growth of independent trade unions contributing to the child immunisation programme of UNICEF. TUC Aid supported the tsunami victims, following the devastation caused in parts of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand, in their efforts to re-build their lives. It promotes human and trade union rights throughout the world.

The European Women’s Lobby This is the largest umbrella organisation of women’s associations in the European Union working to promote women’s rights and equality between women and men ( It believes that: girls and women should be free from male physical, sexual and mental violence women’s voices are equal in importance to men’s and should have equal weight in all areas of decision making girls and women should be able to freely choose their study and career paths, and enjoy equal opportunities with men women should be able to enjoy economic independence and freedom from poverty at all stages of their lives women and men should enjoy equal pay and equal pensions women should be able to fully and freely combine work, private and family life on an equal footing with men girls and women from all backgrounds should have equal rights women should have full control over their bodies and sexuality.

Activity In small groups, pick a few of these beliefs and using what you have learnt during the course draft an action plan and think about: what is your trade union’s views on the topics you have chosen? what actions do you/your trade union need to take to progress the topics? what would be your timescale or are there key dates to campaign around? what support will you need and will you need resources? how will you know if you have made a difference? Nominate a spokesperson to report back.


Working Women International Solidarity

Further information Follow the global link to find A Trade Union Digest of Organisations and Resources on International Development Issues for information on a range of sources and resources. – European Trade Union Confederation – the voice of European workers A global campaign which aims to ensure that women's rights are recognised world-wide. This site will provide the links to the global union to which your own is affiliated. Follow through for information on women in your sector. The site of the organisation that brings together union centres worldwide. Follow the equalities or women links for a broad range of information on union actions, policies and research.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists



Working Women International Solidarity

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


Š Paul Box/

Women's participation on TUC Education courses during 2011 remained steady at 38.4 per cent of reps trained. Women reps made up 46.8 per cent of new learning reps trained.


Resources and contacts Abortion Rights Campaigns for abortion rights.

Acas (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) Helpline 08457 47 47 47 (Monday-Friday, 8am–8pm and Saturday, 9am–1pm) For ordering ACAS publications 08702 42 90 90 (Monday to Friday, 08:00-18:00)

Asylum Aid Advice Line: 0207 354 9264 (Open Tuesday 1pm–4pm and Thursday 10am–12.30pm) Provides legal support to and campaigns on behalf of asylum seekers, including a project on women in the asylum system.

EAVES Campaigning against violence against women and offering refuges for women escaping violence and prostitution.

EHRC (Equality and Human Rights Commission) The EHRC website contains a wealth of research and guidance.

Fawcett Society Membership organisation campaigning for women’s equality in all spheres of life but particularly women’s representation in public life and women’s equality at work.

Global Unions This site will provide the links to the global union to which your own is affiliated. Follow through for information on women in your sector.

HM Government Information on rights on the workplace, including maternity rights.

International Trade Union Confederation The organisation that brings together union centres worldwide. Follow the women link (under issues) for a broad range of information on union actions, policies and research.


Working Women Resources and contacts

LRD (Labour Research Department) Contact: 020 7928 3649 The Labour research Dept publishes a range of information for trade union negotiators. Payline is their online database giving details of 2,300 collective agreements.

Mary Macarthur Holiday Trust Provides holiday bursaries for women who need a break.

Maternity Action Advice Line: 0845 600 8533 Provides information and a helpline on maternity rights.

The Office for Disability Issues

Platform 51 Campaigns for and offers services to disadvantaged young women (including young mothers, ex-offenders, and women with a history of addiction).

Rape Crisis Freephone helpline: 0808 802 9999 (1 –2.30pm; 7– 9.30pm) Offers advice and practical support to victims of rape and sexual violence.

Refuge Freephone 24-Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline: 0808 2000 247 Provides advice and refuges for women and children victims of domestic violence.

Rights of Women Family law advice line: 020 7251 6577 (Mondays between 11am–-1pm, Tuesdays and Wednesdays between 2pm and 4pm and 7pm–9pm, Thursdays between 7pm and 9pm and Fridays between 12noon and 2pm) Criminal law advice line: 020 7251 8887 (Tuesdays between 11am and 1pm and Thursdays between 2pm and 4pm) Immigration and asylum law advice: 020 7490 7689 (Mondays between 2pm and 4pm and Wednesdays between 11am and 1pm) Rights of Women works to attain justice and equality by informing, educating and empowering women on their legal rights.

Southall Black Sisters Campaigns against violence against women with a particular focus on BME women.

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


TUC (Trades Union Congress) Provides publications and updates on all matters concerning employment and women’s rights including education and training and developments in trade unions. Runs separate website (Worksmart) with up to date information about workplace rights.

unionlearn A range of useful contacts, resources and detailed information about courses, learning and skills and EU information.

Women for Refugee Women Campaigns for the rights of women seeking asylum and women refugees in the UK.

Women’s Aid Free 24-hour helpline: 0808 2000 247 A national charity working to end domestic violence against women and children. They can offer support, advice and information on all aspects of domestic violence.

Women’s Budget Group Produces reports and analysis of government decisions using gender budgeting techniques.

Women’s Resource Centre Campaigns for women’s rights and acts as a hub for ‘women’s sector’ organisations.

Working Families Helpline: 0300 012 0312 Provides advice and a helpline on the rights of parents in the workplace and in the welfare system

TUC Education TUC Education is the TUC’s training arm for workplace reps and union professionals. It has an unrivalled reach into Britain’s workplaces to provide education and training for workplace representatives. In 2011, we trained 47,947 union workplace representatives (18,412 of them women) and 815 union professionals through the network of more than 60 partnerships with further education colleges across the UK. Most classroom-based courses are also available online . TUC Education also offers short, topic-based e-learning modules for union reps and union professionals, called eNotes. These are designed to keep union reps and professionals up to date with the fast moving world of work. This initiative reaches into those areas of the economy where union support is harder to access. This, alongside enhancements to TUC Education’s existing online programme, gives union reps and professionals a convenient and effective way to keep up to date. First offers include Sick Notes; Paternity Leave; Bargaining for Skills; Equalities; Vulnerable Workers and European Works Councils; Facilities and Supporting Learners. Enrol at


Working Women Resources and contacts

TUC Education contacts: Liz Rees TUC Education Manager t 020 7079 6923 e

Rob Hancock Regional Education Officer – Southern & Eastern t 020 7467 1369 e

Jackie Williams Education & Training Officer t 020 7079 6924 e

Clare Moore ICTU Education & Training Officer – Northern Ireland t 02890 247940 e

Martin Hegarty Education & Training Officer t 020 7079 6946 e Craig Hawkins Online Learning Officer t 020 7079 6947 e Anna Kalsi E-learning Support Officer t 020 7079 6957 e Natasha Owusu Admin Officer t 020 7079 6927 e Harry Cunningham Regional Education Officer – Scotland t 0141 221 8545 e Pete Holland Regional Education Officer – North West t 0151 236 7678 e Julie Cook Regional Education Officer – Wales t 02920 347010 e Marie Hughes Regional Education Officer – South West t 0117 9470521 e Ian West Regional Education Officer – Northern, Yorkshire and the Humber t 0191 227 5572 e Pete Try Regional Education Officer – East & West Midlands t 0121 236 4454 e Phil Gowan Regional Education Officer – Southern & Eastern t 020 7467 1238 e

A TUC Handbook for all Trade Unionists


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Working women - a TUC handbook for all trade unionists  

This book is about the lives and experiences of women at work, in their communities and as trade unionists. It is designed as a resource for...

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