Spot the difference; Politics for female normals

Signpost, political parties

Long gone are the days when it was obvious what the big 3 political parties represented, they have moved closer and closer to each other making it incredibly hard for us, the voter, to vote. I have therefore done the leg work for you and have researched the policies for each of the big 3 political parties (Conservative, Labour and Lib-Dem) that support women in the UK. The issues that I have particularly sought out are – childcare, flexible working, pay gap and women at senior management level. I will firstly start with some statistics and facts about women’s position in the UK as it stands and then I will go on to detail what policies each of the main 3 political parties are putting forward for women in the 2015 general election.

Current facts and figures

1. Using the international comparable measure of mean, hourly earnings, the pay gap between men and women is 17.2%.
2. Components of pay gap per hour worked are shown below;

>> Interruptions to the labour market due to family care
>> Occupational segregation
>> Discrimination and other factors associated with being female

3. There has been a 16 per cent rise in unqualified teachers in our classrooms over the last year under the coalition.
4. The best employers achieve return rates of over 90% of women returning after maternity leave.
5. The Equal Pay Act was first introduced in 1975, the act was amended in 2004 to allow a tribunal to choose to determine the question of equal value.
6. Women who work part-time earn on average 40% less per hour than men working full-time.
7. For every £1 a man receives from a pension, a woman receives a mere 32p.

Conservative Policies

• Compulsory pay audits for employers who discriminate
• Extending flexible working to all parents of children under the age of 18. Currently this policy only stands for parents with children under the age of 6.
• Helping women into work and up the careers ladder. Often, what happens at the moment is that women drop out if the labour force until their child starts school as their companies do not fully support them in flexible working. This means that women end up losing years of experience compared to their male equivalents, with the male colleagues winning promotions over women who took time out to have a child.
• Core hours scheme. Conservative Party Headquarters (CCHQ) has introduced a core hours scheme for all staff (men and women). Staff are expected to be in the office between the hours of 10am and 4pm, however, other than that they can make their hours up as and when needed or is appropriate for their position. CCHQ also supports employees working from home when possible.

Lib-dem Policies

• Increase free childcare for working families to 20 hours a week from the end of paid maternity leave. The current policy stands at 15 hours a week is only available for 3 and 4 year olds.
• Paternity leave for 4 weeks for new fathers to be shared from/with mother’s maternity leave.
• Use transparency to drive fair pay: require companies with over 250 employees to publish information on gender pay differences, declare the number of people they employ on less than the living wage, and provide information comparing the top and median pay levels of their staff.
• Raise the quality of early years provision and ensure that by 2020; every early years setting should employ at least one person who holds an ‘Early Years Teacher’ qualification.

Labour Policies

• Free universal, pre-school childcare for working families to reduce barriers to employment and cut family bills. Extend free childcare from 15 to 25 hours for working parents with three and four-year-olds
• Introduce a primary childcare guarantee – a legal guarantee that parents of primary-aged children can access childcare from 8am to 6pm through their local school.
• Ensure that 100% of teachers employed permanently in schools are fully qualified.

As stated in my introduction, the policies are very similar and is therefore very difficult to choose. There are currently only manifesto summaries in the social sphere, I would advise that anyone planning on voting in the 2015 general election (and I think you should) to read the manifesto for each political party to find out which of the parties resonates with you the most. If you don’t vote, you can’t moan about the failings of the elected government.

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