A different angle on workplace discrimination?

There is no question that the discrimination of groups other than of white males has dominated workplace issues for many years. If we are to believe a report by the British TUC then it seems that there are also discriminatory divisions between males. For instance, the report - Out of Time (Colette Fagan, Ariane Hegewisch and Jane Pillinger, TUC) - suggests, "more men are now starting to ask their employers if they can work flexibly but they are less likely to consider changing their hours than working mums and when they do, are more likely to have their requests turned down."

What I found most interesting about the report is that only a handful of the aggrieved have taken their employer to an employment tribunal. What is more, it is believed that this reluctance leads to a reinforcing of the idea "that it is the working mother who has to reduce her hours and juggle childcare and work when her children are young". In short, women continue to pay the penalty of workplace discrimination.

Further research clearly needs to be done to find out why men in such situations are reluctant to take their employers to an employment tribunal. Do they fear some sort of later retribution? Do they make a request hoping it will fail, but they can say they've tried? Is the legislation not tough enough, i.e. should the onus be on the employer to demonstrate why flexible working will harm their business? Could this be the continuing legacy of the "right to manage" ideology of the Thatcher years?

A summary of the report can be found in the following TUC briefing - Employers denying dads flexible working hours says TUC.

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