Harriet Harman

Member of Parliament for Camberwell and Peckham. Mother of the House of Commons.

Harriet: Families need rights not favours from the boss


“EOC report shows need for tough new laws. Cameron offers only warm words”

Harriet Harman MP said: “This important report from the EOC shows the need for tough new laws to give the right to flexible work to families bringing up children and caring for older people. 

It’s not good enough just to ask employers to “consider” a request. The burden of proof should be on the employer to show why flexible working is not practical. Employers unreasonably refusing flexibility cannot be allowed to jeopardise the upbringing of children and the care of the elderly.  And all jobs should be available part-time unless the employer can show it is not practical.

Harriet Harman who is a candidate for the deputy leadership said: 

David Cameron's warm words will not help one single parent holding down a job and  bringing up children. It won’t help any of the families trying to make ends meet and caring for an elderly parent. 

Flexible work for families is an important social policy imperative. We need parents to be able to bring up their children properly.  It’s what they want to do but it’s also what society, and our economy needs. 

We need families to have time to care for the elderly. Family support is the first choice of care.  It's what most older people want and it’s what most families want. No-one wants future generations of elderly to be put in institutions because their families are working so hard they don't have the time to take them to the hospital appointment, pop in to check on them and do the extra bit of shopping. Unless we take bold action, increasing numbers of older people will end up in institutions – something neither they nor their families want.

We should seek to win support from employers but they must not be allowed a veto.  We did not allow them to block the national minimum wage or extended maternity leave.. We were bold and radical then. We must be bold and radical now.

Government must listen to families. When we listen to families we get it right.   Their message is loud and clear.”

Ms Harman has called for a Family Focus at the heart of government. In the deputy leadership election one of her top priorities has been better care and support for older people including family flexibility. With more women in employment and people living longer the issue of the care of the elderly is made more acute.


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