Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Redundancies penalising mothers

I feel angry this week. Angry for the women I work with, angry for myself, for a lost benefit that I felt so secure with.

The right to flexible workplace arrangements is only a new one. But its a valuable one. The right to return from Maternity Leave, with a reasonable expectation that an employer will  accommodate a flexible work arrangement that will allow a women to better balance her family and her career feels like it has been compromised for me. Not just when returning from maternity leave either, anytime when you have young children and need a particular balance.
Its not like I even took strong advantage of this right myself. The most I asked my boss for was to be placed in a role where it would be suitable for me to finish at 4:30 each day. I need this in order to get back to daycare before it shuts. And in a company the size of mine, this need is not hard to fill.
But I have seen my colleagues return to work part time, job sharing, in less orthodox work hours, working partly or wholly from home etc. And this is right. It is right that these skilled women, who gave themselves to the role so much before building their families, who will give 100% while raising their families, and will be more committed to their roles than ever, should be given the support to balance everything.

But it occurs to me now, looking at the new organisational structure at work, that there is no room for any of the flexible workplace arrangements currently in place. It is a clean structure, with no allowance for part time workers, or work from home, or unorthadox hours. By doing a spill and fill (all staff have to reapply for their roles, and unsuccessful staff will be made redunanct), Heads of Departments are in a position to ignore the more challenging employee's with inconveniant family needs in favour of employee's able to traditional roles and hours. Mothers wanting roles in this new structure need to be willing to abandon their precariously balanced family needs and embrace longer or less desirable hours, all in the name of job stability.

This makes me angry. I covet the right to a flexible workplace arrangement, and I valued my company as being one that always championed this right. What is going on at work right now feels wrong, like a loophole is being abused in the process of structuring a new future for my company. I don't believe it was deliberate, but it is definately a by-product of the process we are currently going through.

This is my ranty pants vent this week, have you been in this position?

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