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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Sarah Veale: Absolutely, or older people who want to phase themselves out of the workplace and do two or three years part-time as they go. You would have to differentiate and weigh in some of those factors. I do not think that makes the operation undoable, but as I was saying earlier, it makes it slightly more complex. Certainly, the TUC has always highly encouraged part-time work, but the problem with it is that employers, and often society, do not value it in the same way as full-time work, even if the person is doing exactly the same as their full-time equivalent.

We know of examples of job-share schemes where employers have taken on two or three part-time workers to do a full-time job. If it is managed well, you get huge benefits. You get one and a half times what you would get from one person. Good managers will appreciate how to deal with what are often societal demands for a more flexible approach to how people do their job. I do not know whether that helps. The trouble is that equal pay law is not really being touched in the Bill. It is immensely complicated—more complicated than the laws affecting discrimination against part-time workers, which are a separate but linked issue—and probably a lot more work needs to be done on it.