Accessible childcare and shared parental leave needed for workplace equality
This is a topic currently affecting my family.
In the last month my husband's office hours have changed which in turn changes our whole family dynamic when it comes to working.
His ability to work mostly from home means I'm free to work as many days as I need without needing to put our toddler in a creche, saving us thousands every year.
Now with all of this changing it puts my ability to work as I have in question as we simply can not afford childcare.
I've spoken to many women who have dealt with similar issues and the result is almost always the same, they have to leave their job.
It's not the way that things should be especially with most modern families requiring two incomes to meet the demands of a rising cost of living.
According to attendees at the inaugural WorkEqual conference in Dublin this week more accessible childcare and shared parental leave were identified as top measures to achieve workplace equality.
In advance of the conference, attendees and wider stakeholders were surveyed on the measures that could be taken to promote greater gender equality in the workplace. Survey respondents were presented with potential measures, and asked to rate them in order of their likely impact.
Respondents picked more affordable and accessible childcare as the measure that would have the greatest impact in achieving workplace equality.
This was followed by the introduction of optional shared parental leave in the first year of a baby’s life, whereby the mother could allocate 50% of her maternity leave entitlement to her partner, if desired.
Other high ranking measures included a legal requirement for companies to disclose their gender pay gap data, and to provide accompanying reports.
Career support structures for women during and after maternity leave was also a topical issue at the conference.
Speaking at the #WorkEqual event, An Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said:
"The Government is determined to promote and encourage workplace equality. We’re increasing State subsidies for childcare to make it more affordable, improving parental leave entitlements and we’re enacting new legislation aimed at closing the gender pay gap.
We’re making good progress but we know we can’t be complacent. So we’re establishing a Citizens’ Assembly on gender equality; the first meeting of which will be held in January. It will bring forward proposals to increase women’s full and effective participation at all levels of decision-making in the workplace, politics and public life and ensure equal opportunities for leadership. "
Hearing that changes are being made is fantastic but it still doesn't change matters for a lot households the country over, including my own.
A lack of affordable childcare means many families are currently having the same discussions that myself and my husband are and that just shouldn't be the case.
If a parent wishes to stay at home rather than return to work that is entirely their choice but it isn't a choice that should be forced upon anyone.
More needs to be done by our government to address these issues and I hope that the measures An Taoiseach has spoken about will be put into place soon enough to prevent more families being stuck between a rock and a hard place.