Securing women's jobs during the Covid-19 crisis

19 Sep 2020
Stressed woman in suit in front of a laptop

Update, 19/9/2020. Despite the hard work to get it accepted and the backing from various MPs, unfortunately our motion was rejected for conference.

Liberal Democrat Women demand urgent action to save women's jobs Post-Covid. Women are more at risk of losing their jobs and experiencing serious financial difficulty as a result of the crisis, and this risk is heightened for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, disabled women and LGBT+ women. Liberal Democrat Women have developed a set of practical policies that will protect women's jobs and ensure that women are able to benefit equally from Post -Covid economic stimulus. The full motion is laid out below:

Securing women's jobs during the Covid-19 crisis

This motion is supported by: Daisy Cooper MP, Sarah Olney MP, Sir Edward Davey MP, Layla Moran MP, Munira Wilson MP, Christine Jardine MP, Wendy Chamberlain MP and Baroness Lorely Burt

The Covid-19 global public health crisis has triggered an unparalleled socio-economic crisis which has exacerbated pre-existing inequalities. Conference notes with concern that:

A) Women are more at risk of losing their jobs and experiencing serious financial difficulty as a result of the crisis, and this risk is heightened for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women, disabled women and LGBT+ women.

B) Women are more likely to be in insecure and low paid employment, on zero hours’ contracts, or work in sectors which have been the most adversely affected by the crisis, including care, education, early years and childcare, retail and hospitality, travel and tourism.

C) 90% of single parents are female and the majority of caregivers are women; they are more likely to have been furloughed or at risk of being made redundant, exacerbating the pay gap and future prospects.

D) There are serious gaps in the Government's salary retention scheme for the self-employed, and self-employed women are more likely to be severely affected by the crisis.

E) One in four pregnant women have reported being forced illegally to take sick leave, start their maternity leave early, or refused permission to work from home.

F) There are concerns that women who have been unable to work while children are off school may be more vulnerable to redundancy.

G) Women-owned businesses have less access to capital and only 1% of all venture funding goes to businesses founded by all-female teams, putting them at greater risk of insolvency during COVID disruption.

Conference notes the Liberal Democrats' support for:

i) Calling for Universal Credit to be paid from day one, with the housing element of UC to be increased in line with actual rents.

ii) the scrapping of No Recourse to Public Funds.

iii) Increasing statutory sick pay and extending it to the self-employed, and abolishing the earnings threshold.

iv) Changing the law so that flexible working is open to all from day one in the job, with employers required to advertise jobs accordingly, unless there are significant business reasons why that is not possible.

v) Investment in the NHS and social care, which is now more urgent than ever, by putting a penny in the pound on income tax.

Conference calls for:

  1. All companies that took advantage of the Government's furlough scheme to be legally required to demonstrate they are making equal pay for equal work and that women are being treated fairly and equally in terms of restructuring, recruitment, retention and promotion.
  2. The calculation of support for the self-employed to exclude periods of time off work to care, including maternity / paternity leave.
  3. Government enforcement of gender pay gap reporting.
  4. Free, high-quality, universal childcare for every child aged two to four years and children aged between nine and 24 months where their parents or guardians are in work. This must be by properly funded rapid, targeted investment in scaling up childcare provision safely.
  5. A bespoke package of funding for the early years and childcare sector.
  6. Equal access for women to jobs in any green stimulus projects, such as renewable energy, and to offer retraining and jobs in zero carbon industries, with clear diversity recruitment targets for participating organisations.
  7. Mandatory blind applications for any government sponsored SME targeted loans up to the credit stage and transparent feedback with rationale for all people declined.
  8. To retain diverse workforces, amend s159 of the Equalities Act to empower organisations to have due regard to protected characteristics in considerations of redundancy, retention and dismissal.
  9. A Women Entrepreneurs’ Support Hub to provide access to advice and coaching to help women apply and pitch for funding, with promotion and easy access to the Hub on all loan providers’ websites.
  10. Any government share buy-in scheme to prioritise women-owned SME businesses to counter lower private equity funding, a significant impediment to accessing loans.

NB: Please note the following:

We consulted the Covid Business Task Force in preparing this policy motion who gave us valuable feedback and fully support the policies and wish to integrate them into their work.

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