Yes, the money for this is available, before any Tories try naysaying.
Labour will increase paid maternity leave to 12 months and make it easier to work flexibly under plans to improve how women are treated at work.
Statutory maternity pay would go up from nine months so new mums could spend longer with their newborn babies before going back to work.
All employees could choose working hours that suit from day one in the job, allowing many parents to work part-time and flexibly.
And a future Labour government would require large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy to break the stigma associated with that stage in life.
Labour also plans to create a new Workers’ Protection Agency working in partnership with HMRC with powers to fine organisations that fail to report their gender pay gap or do enough to close the pay gap.
For more on Labour’s plans to close the gender pay gap, visit this article.
Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.
Labour has secured a vote to force the Government to assess the impact of social security changes and fiscal measures on disadvantaged groups.
The Government failed to meet Labour’s demand for the Budget to be audited on the basis of gender, race, age, disability, class and region. Other parties have now joined Labour calls for transparency, with 127 MPs from Labour, the Lib Dems, SNP and the Greens, signing Dawn Butler’s letter to Justine Greening calling for all Government policy to be assessed for their impact on disadvantaged groups.
Although the Public Sector Equality Duty (PSED) places a legal responsibility on public bodies, including the Treasury, to conduct equality assessments, the Treasury has failed to publish adequate equalities audits of its fiscal measures.
This comes as analysis shows that 86 per cent of tax and social security changes continue to fall on women and women only received two thirds of the spending men received in this budget.
Dawn Butler MP, Labour’s Shadow Women and Equalities Minister, said: “The Tories’ failed austerity project has hit the most vulnerable groups in our society the hardest, forcing women, ethnic minority communities and disabled people to pay the highest price.
“The Finance Bill represents more of the same for groups with protected characteristics who have borne the brunt of Conservative economic failure for too long. We need a detailed assessment to reveal the full damage of Tory austerity.
“The next Labour government will ensure that we publish comprehensive equality impact assessments to enable us to truly build an economy that works for the many, not the few.”
Ultra-right-wing blog Guido Fawkes took a rare step towards criticising the government, with an article attacking the gender pay gap among Cabinet ministers.
“Following the government announcement today that they will force companies to disclose their gender pay gap,” writes Guido, “it seems only right to look at how David Cameron performs on the same metric.
“After carrying out an extensive gender pay audit, Guido can reveal that female members of the Cabinet are paid a shocking 8.4% less than their male counterparts. Men in the Cabinet are paid on average* £126,478 , while women on average* are paid just £116,693…”
Really? That seems a little low. While applauding Guido’s honesty in pointing out this sickening Tory misogynist discrimination, one wonders whether he has included all income claimed by these ministers.
*Calculation based on the mean average wage by gender for all who attend cabinet.
Fellow blogger and Vox Political reader Owen Boswarva has delivered frightening proof of the way parents have been sidelined by Michael Gove’s Department for Education, in order to give away – not even sell – confidential information about our children to private companies.
Mr Boswarva said he had written a blog post about the issue last year, in which he stated his concern about “the low profile of DfE’s NPD initiative. Most of the consultation responses are from organisations with an interest in re-using the data, leavened by some cautionary advice from civil society groups. There are only a couple of responses from schools and a half-dozen or so responses from individual parents (consistently opposed to the proposals).” [Emphasis mine]
“There appears to have been no concerted effort to bring the consultation or the NPD initiative to the attention of parents or pupils (i.e. the data subjects themselves). This is a quote from one of the parents who did respond: ‘I am shocked and appalled that I wasn’t notified about this consultation through my child’s school — I read about it on Twitter of all things. A letter should have gone to every single parent explaining the proposals and how to respond to this consultation.’
“(Now imagine that sentiment amplified via Mumsnet …)”
His full article is available here and makes absorbing reading as it features all of the responses to what the DfE (laughably) called its “consultation”.
In his comment to VP, Mr Boswarva wrote: “Some civil liberties organisations (including Big Brother Watch) did respond to the DfE consultation… The implemented access regime is not quite as bad as the original proposals, but I agree we should be concerned.
“For me the main issue is that parents (and pupils themselves, who are the actual data subjects) are unaware of how the personal data is being shared with third-party organisations.
“There was no press release or any other broad communication to the public when access to NPD data was expanded. (It’s worth noting that most of the broadsheets [newspapers] have been given access to Tier 2 pupil data themselves, so they are probably not keen to rock the boat.)
I have yet to do so (time being against me) but I invite any readers with an interest to download the report, go through it, and report your findings.
I’m off to find a contact address for Mumsnet.
Addendum: I’ve amended this article after Mr Boswarva contacted me to point out that the DfE isn’t, in fact, selling pupil information – the department is giving it away for free. In my opinion this makes its actions even worse. What do you think? (Thanks are due to Mr Boswarva, whose full communication should appear in the comment column below.)
Selling their future: Michael Gove’s Department for Education has put pupils’ confidential information up for sale.
Thanks are due to the Vox Political reader who flagged up the fact that, while plans to sell British citizens’ health records and tax details are currently delayed or in consideration, confidential information about our children is already being passed on to private companies.
Researchers and third-party organisations can apply for detailed information from the national pupil database (NPD), covering pupils at schools and colleges in England.
This includes test and exam results, details of prior attainment and progression at different key stages for pupils in the state sector, attainment data for students in non-maintained special schools, sixth-form and further education colleges, and information on pupils in independent schools, where available.
The database also includes information about pupils’ characteristics, such as gender, ethnicity, first language, eligibility for free school meals, special educational needs (SEN), and pupil absence and exclusions.
Why would anyone want to use such information commercially?
Extracts of this data are available for use by any organisation or person who, “for the purpose of promoting the education or well-being of children in England”, are conducting research or analysis, producing statistics, or providing information, advice or guidance. To whom?
The available data is arranged into ‘tiers’, as follows:
Tier 1 – the most sensitive personal information
Tier 2 – other sensitive personal information, including less sensitive versions of tier 1 data
Tier 3 – school-level data
Tier 4 – other pupil-level data, for example, attainment, absence and exclusions
Users can even request bespoke extracts, with a member of the NPD Data Request team on hand to advise on the approvals process, and whether the information requested is available.
The NPD is also linked to the further and higher education sectors, using data from the individualised learner record (ILR) and Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) student record.
Users can request linked information in the following combinations:
NPD linked to ILR data
NPD linked to HESA student record
NPD linked to both ILR and HESA
Individualised learner record linked to HESA student record
You will not be consulted on whether you wish to allow your child’s information to be given away.
This means a huge amount of information about your children is now available to third parties and – considering the government guidance note from which this information is drawn is almost a month old – may already have been handed over.
Confidential information on – for example – exam and test results, special educational needs, absence and exclusions, and eligibility for free school meals could have a serious impact on a pupil’s prospects in adult life, if used to inform organisations that are hiring school leavers, for example.
There are safeguards. Organisations requesting information need to demonstrate that they comply with all relevant requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, including proving that they are registered with the Information Commissioner’s Office to process personal data or fall within an exemption, have appropriate security arrangements in place to process the data, intend to use the data only for a specified purpose, will keep the data only for a specified length of time, and will not share the data without our prior written approval.
Considering this government’s track record, how safe does that make you feel?
Addendum: I’ve amended this article after Owen Boswarva contacted me to point out that the DfE isn’t, in fact, selling pupil information – the department is giving it away for free. In my opinion this makes its actions even worse. What do you think?
Skewed view: This image (not mine) provides a startlingly accurate representation of the way British Conservatives see Europe. Do you honestly think they can be trusted to honour the human rights that European laws have granted us?
You do realise what David Cameron means when he says he wants to re-negotiate our membership of the European Union, don’t you?
For a start, he means he wants to abolish laws that protect the human rights your ancestors fought tooth and nail to win for you.
He won’t make any deals in your interest. That’s not in his nature.
If he gets his way, you could lose the right to:
Written terms and conditions of work, and a job description – and the right to the same terms and conditions if transferred to a different employer.
Four weeks’ paid leave from work per year.
Not be sacked for being pregnant, or for taking time off for ante-natal appointments.
Come back to work after maternity leave, on the same pay, terms and conditions as before the leave started.
Health and safety protection for pregnant women, new and breastfeeding mothers.
Equal treatment for workers employed through an agency.
Tea and lunch breaks during the working day for anyone working six hours or more
One day off per week.
Time off for urgent family reasons.
In addition, Cameron could relieve employeers of the legal obligation to ensure the health and safety of their workers, including undertaking risk assessments, acting to minimise risks, informing workers of risks, and consulting on health and safety with employees and their representatives. In his cost-cutting brave new Britain you’d just have to take your chances.
Health and safety representatives from trade unions could lose the right to ask employers to make changes in order to protect workers’ health and safety, and they would lose their protection against unfair treatment by their employer for carrying out their duties in relation to this.
The ban on forcing children less than 13 years of age into work could be lost, along with the limit on the hours children aged 13 or more and young people can work.
Children who could then be forced into work, regardless of the effect on their education, would have no rules protecting their health and safety, and the rules that say they can only be employed doing “light work” could also be abolished.
Protection from discrimination or harassment at work on grounds of gender, religion or belief, disability, age or sexual orientation – direct or indirect – could be dropped.
And the right of disabled people to expect their employers to make reasonable adjustments for them at work could also be abolished.
These are just your rights at work!
Cameron himself has said, as leader of the Opposition: “I do not believe it is appropriate for social and employment legislation to be dealt with at the European level. It will be a top priority for the next Conservative government to restore social and employment legislation to national control.”
And as Prime Minister: “Complex rules restricting our labour markets are not some naturally occurring phenomenon. Just as excessive regulation is not some external plague that’s been visited on our businesses.”
To find out what he meant by those words, we must turn to the former leader of the British Conservative MEPs, Martin Callanan, who said: “One of the best ways for the EU to speed up growth is to … scrap the Working Time Directive, the Agency Workers Directive, the Pregnant Workers Directive and all of the other barriers to actually employing people if we really want to create jobs in Europe.”
Of course, they distort the facts. These rules aren’t barriers to employing people at all; they are structures within which people may be employed responsibly.
The Tories want to ban responsibility in the workplace. They want a return to dangerous employment conditions, abuse of workers and the removal of any legal protection from such abuse that they may have.
They will tear apart your rights at work.
So, if you are living in the UK and you’ve got a job, please take a moment to consider what this means for you. You might agree with the Coalition on its benefits policy that has led to thousands of deaths of sick and disabled people; you might agree with its bedroom tax and too-low benefit cap that has led to a rapid rise in debt and homelessness among the unemployed and those on low wages.
But now you know they’re coming for you, too.
What are you going to do about it?
Are you going to sit on your thumbs and do nothing – just meekly wait for them to rock up and tell you they’ve abolished all your rights at work and you can now go and slave for them in appalling conditions with absolutely no legal protection at all?
In other words, when it’s you that’s threatened, are you going to let it happen, just like you let it happen to the sick, disabled, unemployed and low-waged?
Or are you going to take action and make a difference?
It doesn’t take much. You could write to David Cameron and to your MP at the House of Commons. You could email them – just look up the addresses on They Work For You, or you could add your name to the letter being created by Unions Together. Yes, I know Mr Cameron says the unions are a bad thing, but in this case the enemy of your enemy is your friend.
As the leader of the European Parliamentary Labour Party, Glenis Willmott MEP, says: “Our rights at work are not ‘red tape’ to be slashed away. Don’t let Cameron and the Tories get away with this great European scam.”
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