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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 February 2007, 15:23 GMT
'I envied my female colleagues'
A review of inequality in the UK suggests mothers of young children are most likely to face discrimination in the workplace, but they are not the only ones.

PETER, 35, SOUTH LONDON

Peter had been earning up to 70,000 a year travelling overseas and working on multimillion pound projects for a large financial company.

But when he put in a request for flexible working to spend an extra day a week with his daughter, all that changed.

His wife had been through a number of miscarriages and he knew they would not have any more children, he said.

Baby feet
Peter wanted to be part of his daughter's early years

"I saw my female colleagues spending more time with their children and I was envious. I wanted to share the upbringing of my daughter."

So knowing that his company was well-versed in it, he became the first male member of staff to ask for flexible working.

After a lot of pushing they granted me one day off a week, he said.

But after a few months he became aware he was being overlooked for the types of work he had previously done.

"Suddenly I was given the work of a trainee. My managers were sending me a clear message that they did not like what I doing."

Then, despite nine years with the company and a substantial bonus and pay rise each year, that year he got nothing.

He took out a grievance against the company and an out-of-court settlement was reached.

It was enough for him to leave work and be self-employed, giving him more time to spend with his three-year-old daughter.

He accepts that while flexible working does create problems for employers, he now thinks managers should have greater knowledge of employees' rights.

He also says more should be done to educate employees about their own rights.

Name has been changed.

MICHELLE CHEW, FORMER POLICEWOMAN

Single mum Michelle Chew used to work as a police officer.

However she began to find the irregular hours involved in shift work did not fit in with child care patterns.

"Unfortunately the department I was asked to move to was requesting I worked early, lates and nights on a seven-day cycle," she said.

"This would have been impossible at that time because my childcare arrangements were nurseries.

Michelle Chew and sons
Michelle gave up her job in the police to bring up her sons

"We talked about coming to a compromise and working to a shift pattern that would actually suit them and me, and we just couldn't reach a compromise.

"I didn't take it personally. I don't feel that it was about Michelle Chew.

"I think I represented a lot of people who had left prior to me.

"I felt that working parents, not just mothers, should have more flexibility at a time that was difficult for them."

After a three-year legal battle the High Court decided flexible hours should be granted.

"As the years rolled on it became apparent this was bigger than I could have anticipated and some good has to come of it," she said.

"At least I feel it's been brought into the public arena."


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