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Communities and Local Government News Release

Ruth Kelly announces support to create more quality part-time jobs for women - Communities and Local Government News Release 2007/0070

02 April 2007

Ruth Kelly, Minister for Women, stepped up efforts to reduce the gender pay gap today by awarding nearly half a million pounds to a range of organisations to create more quality part time jobs at senior level.

Visiting a Royal Mail sorting office, Ruth Kelly met mail workers who will benefit from one of the schemes awarded funding from a new Quality Part Time Work Fund.

£25,000, match-funded by Royal Mail, will be used to develop job-share and part-time managerial posts on two sites in London. Royal Mail intend to make 10 per cent of management jobs on these sites part-time within 18 months. They then aim to roll this out across the business. Other successful projects include a scheme to recruit more senior female investigators on a part-time basis at Durham Constabulary; a national job-share register and a project researching role models for part time working in ethnic minority communities in Blackburn.

Supporting employers to create more quality part-time and flexible posts was one of the commitments made in the Government’s action plan last September, following a recommendation by the independent Women and Work Commission. The fund is designed to open up more part-time jobs for women at a senior level through giving women the confidence to pursue part-time working and helping employers find ways to make it work. Organisations awarded funding had to demonstrate their commitment to the project and commit to sharing the lessons learnt with other employers.

Ruth Kelly, said;

"The part-time pay gap is still too wide with women working part-time earning 40 per cent less than men working full-time. Working with a range of employers across business, local government and the voluntary sector, we can kick start the process of enabling more women to work part-time in senior posts. As things stand, working part-time is concentrated in low-paid jobs and junior grades - this fund is designed to show employers that women can balance climbing the career ladder with their home lives."

One year on from the Women and Work Commission’s report, which was commissioned by the Prime Minister to look at how to reduce the gender pay gap and help women reach their full potential, Ruth Kelly today published further progress on the Government’s action plan in Towards a Fairer Future;

  • From May 2007, careers advice will be free from stereotypical images and messages that assume there are ‘jobs for girls’ and ‘jobs for boys’.
  • We will introduce new diplomas, such as in Engineering and Information Technology, which will encourage young people to consider and opt for non-stereotypical routes.
  • We are investing £40 million to help women with low skills gain qualifications, develop their confidence and also provide them with mentoring support.
  • £250 million is being spent on improving the skills and qualifications of those who teach under 5s, the majority of whom are women.
  • 115 employers have signed up to the Exemplar Employer scheme for companies and organisations that have particular schemes in place to support their female staff to balance work and family life. These range from Asda to Lloyds TSB to local authorities. Exemplar organisations are meeting in May to share their experiences of what works to support these aims.
  • To support women back into work after taking a career break, we are piloting a learndirect telephone service to test the value of one to one support. It is aimed at adults returning from career breaks, seeking to progress in their careers and wanting to develop their skills. 55 per cent of callers to this service are women.

Commenting on the Government's progress during the past year on their recommendations, Margaret Prosser, chair of the Women and Work Commission, said;

"Closing the gender pay gap will not happen overnight, however the Government is making assured progress in helping women reach their goals in the workplace. In particular, we commend the work they are doing with employers to recognise the benefits of recruiting and retaining staff from the whole talent pool through the Exemplar Employer scheme and the dedicated training programmes and pilots which are underway to help women break into male-dominated occupations. But we do want to see the momentum kept up, in particular on standards in education and careers advice to ensure that all subjects are made appealing and accessible to girls."


1. The list of successful bidders for the Quality Part Time Work Fund are:

  • 3 large employers (Kelloggs, Tescos and Royal Mail);
  • 1 SME flexible working consultancy (Wisework Ltd)
  • 3 local authorities (Swindon Borough Council, Salisbury District Council and East Riding of Yorkshire Council)
  • 1 police force (Durham constabulary)
  • 4 voluntary sector organisations (Working Families, Medical Women’s Federation, Youth Action Ltd in Blackburn, and the Workers’ Educational Association West Midlands)
  • 1 private-public-voluntary sector partnership project (between Equals One Recruitment Ltd, UK Resource Centre for Women in Science Engineering and Technology, Yorkshire Forward and Working Families)

2. The Women and Work Commission Report Shaping a Fairer Future was presented to the Prime Minister by Baroness Prosser on 27 February 2006. The Government published its action plan in response the recommendations in September 2006.

3. The action plan is on-top of the raft of new rights already introduced by the Government including:

  • Extending the period of statutory maternity pay from 18 to 26 weeks, and to 39 weeks from April 07.
  • Giving all new fathers the right to two weeks paid paternity leave and a new right to an additional period of paternity leave of up to 26 weeks.
  • All parents with children under six or a disabled child under 18 the right to require employers to seriously consider their requests to work flexibly. This will extend to carers of adults from April 07.
  • All parents the right to 13 weeks of additional unpaid leave during the first five years of their child's life. Parents of disabled children are able to take 18 weeks' parental leave up to their child's 18th birthday.

4. The Women and Work Commission Report Towards a Fairer Future is available from: www.womenandequalityunit.gov.uk/women_work_commission

5. The Women and Work Commission found that the lack of availability and cost of childcare is a major constraint on women’s choices of occupation and working patterns.

  • To make childcare more affordable we are providing more help than ever before (around £2.7 million a day) to working families with their childcare costs through Working Tax Credits.
  • Three and four year olds are guaranteed a free, part-time early education place and there are plans to do more.

By 2010:

  • All schools will offer extended services to all pupils from 8am to 6pm.
  • 3,500 Sure Start Children’s Centres will be established offering easy access to high quality integrated services for all children under five and their families. Over 1,150 Centres are already open.

6. The Women and Work Commission estimated that increasing women’s participation and enabling them to participate in jobs which are normally done by men could be worth up to £23 billion to the UK economy.

7. 47 per cent of new mothers work flexitime compared to just 17 per cent in 2002 and 31 per cent of new fathers now work flexibly; almost triple the number in 2002.


Information supplied by Communities and Local Government News Release 2007/0070

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