Sue Kedgley’s bill, which has had its first reading, is one that sounds a nice idea but in reality would be a major hassle for employers, and I suspect seriously discourage employers from hiring (especially) women with young children.
First I should state that generally employers will be flexible about changes in working hours for employees they value. It costs a lot when you lose an employee, and more and more employers have had children themselves and are sympathetic.
But this bill removes decision making from the employer. It mandates that an employer *must* agree to reduced or different working hours, unless they can prove it would harm their business, and that the ERA can over-rule an employer’s decision about what is best for their business.
Now the current law protects well those who leave the workforce to have babies. Their job is kept open for up to a year and they have the right to return to that job (or equivalent) for the same hours and same pay.
This law actually requires those with children to have more rights than other staff, and be able to effectively set for themselves what hours they will work. They could say one month they will work 25 hours a week and then a couple of months later demand they only work 10 hours, and then hey again want to be back to 40. And the employer will be legally obliged to agree, unless he can *prove* why he or she should not agree.