Old blokes collapse and let Mum keep working part-time

Somewhat coyly we haven’t disclosed the name of the Council where we have been having a running brawl with some 19th-century minds about a member returning to work part-time after her second child.

This is the Council that refused a request for a 31 hour four day week and demanded that she return to work full time. You’ve had your maternity leave, get back to work! So much for the changes in social attitudes over the last 50 years and the provisions of the legislation and the Award.

We made them provide a three month trial and the Commission tried to help them with encouragement to develop performance criteria so they could establish whether there were operational reasons to reject the request that this arrangement continue. There were no operational reasons to reject the application in the first place and, after almost 3 months, tail between their legs, the Council conceded and provided an extension of the part-time arrangements.

We give advice to parents wanting to return to work on a part-time basis all the time. Sometimes every week. There are some councils where parents returning to work are supported, where a variety of arrangements are put in place to ensure they don’t come back too early, feeling guilty and compromised in their responsibilities to their family, and are then joyfully welcomed back to fill the gap created by their absence. Welcome back.

And occasionally there are the laggards, the councils stuck in the 19th century or where the old blokes think they are part of the misogyny of Mad Men, who think they can reject requests for part-time work, not for operational reasons, but for political or ideological reasons. It’s not the 19th century, it’s not even the 20th century and it certainly isn’t 1950.

These councils give scant regard to their obligations under the Award and the Fair Work Act and not only look ancient, uncompromising and obsolete, but they then have that painfully reinforced when they find they can’t get what they want.

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