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Monday, 4 March, 2002, 07:57 GMT
Rights 'hit women's work prospects'
Pregnant woman
Working women now have more maternity rights
Extra employment rights for women could make it more difficult for them to find work, a group of businesswomen has warned.

The group, headed by the Institute of Directors (IoD), said giving special treatment to women with young children could cause resentment among other workers.

But unions have attacked the group for encouraging sexism in the workplace, arguing new employment rights have enabled more women to find jobs.

The businesswomen's group said maternity rights, and the risk of being taken to a tribunal under discrimination laws, made employers more reluctant to recruit women.

'Bad employers'

"We all accept that employees, especially women with children, need a work-home balance and that employers should be encouraged to provide voluntary, flexible arrangements," said Ruth Lea, head of policy at the IoD.

"But there are limitations to what employers can do.

"There is already evidence that women's employment rights, particularly maternity rights, are damaging women's employability.

"The more those rights are increased, the worse this is likely to get."

TUC equality policy officer Rebecca Gill said the IoD's argument was flawed.

"All the IoD can tell us about is the mindset of bad employers," she said.

"In their minds, flexibility is only about women with children, and nothing to do with productivity or men with children."

See also:

25 Apr 01 | UK Politics
'Climbdown' gives parents more leave
29 Dec 00 | Scotland
Women 'still playing catch-up'
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