Croke Park ’could push women out of the workforce’ say anti agreement unions

Government and pro-deal unions rejects equality audit findings


Measures set out in the proposed new Croke Park agreement could force women out of employment in the public service, the former head of the Equality Authority has suggested.

In an audit of the new Croke Park proposals, Niall Crowley, now an independent equality consultant, said the measures discriminated on gender grounds. He said the proposals would disproportionately disadvantage women in the public service and would deepen gender inequality.

The equality audit was commissioned by trade unions opposed to the proposed new Croke Park agreement.

However the audit finding was criticised by the Government and unions supporting the agreement.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the public service would continue to set the standard for work-life balance.

It said work-life balance arrangements in the public service recommended in the new Croke Park proposals would remain among the best available options provided by Irish employers – particularly when considered in tandem with annual leave and other provisions including the shorter working year scheme and career breaks.

The department said flexible working arrangements, including starting and finishing times, generous leave entitlements, the capacity to take career breaks and so on would continue.

Trade union Impact said it was “scaremongering and completely untrue to say that this agreement will force women out of work”. “In fact, the agreement means that unions can continue to protect jobs and flexible work arrangements. Without an agreement, there will be nothing to stop employers changing – or even abolishing – work-sharing and flexitime arrangements.”

Mr Crowley’s report focused on proposals in the document relating to additional working hours, work-sharing, flexitime and redeployment. It did not deal with pay.

He said the proposals could lead to reduced access to and/or diminished conditions for flexitime and work-sharing, increased working hours without providing for flexibility in their application, and the introduction of change in the approach to redeployment.

Family circumstances
He said it was telling there was no reference to the need to take account of family circumstances and no right of appeal as in the first Croke Park deal. He said the proposals could have a disproportionate impact on women.

“Women are far more likely than men to take up flexible working arrangements to reconcile work and family life. Work-life conflict and time poverty will increase for these women and the proposals could serve as a push factor for them to leave the workplace.”