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Report finds Croke Park deal could push women out of workforce

The equality audit found that changes to working hours and work sharing arrangements would disproportionately affect female public sector workers.

File photo of members of the INMO.
File photo of members of the INMO.
Image: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

AN AUDIT OF proposals for the extension of the Croke Park Agreement has found that the changes have the potential to have a disproportionate and negative impact on women employed in the public service.

The audit, by independent equality expert Niall Crowley, found that the proposals would also deepen gender inequality.

Last month, the INMO, the Irish Medical Organisation, the Civil and Public Services Union and UNITE, together with the 24/7 Frontline Alliance asked for an equality expert to look at the potential impact of the proposals on women.

The audit found that additional working hours are likely to disproportionately impact on women and this could “serve as a push factor for people with caring responsibility to leave the workforce”.

It said the reduction in access to and take up of work sharing arrangements could also push women out of their jobs.

“This is particularly true of the insistence in the proposals that work sharing patterns should not be less than 50 per cent of full working hours,” Crowley said. “The available data identifies that women make up the vast bulk of those working less than 29 hours in a week. These effects can be particularly negative and have longer term consequences for women working in the health sector.”

The audit notes the “absence of any reference to the need to take account of any possible impact on family circumstances or the right of appeal to a third party adjudicator” in the proposals.

It concludes that the potential impact of the Labour Relations Commission proposals “must be mitigated if they are not to deepen inequality for women and to disadvantage men and women with caring responsibilities”.

Related: Equality expert to examine if Croke Park proposals are “anti-women”>

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