Four-day work week for public service part of Greens’ gender-recovery COVID-plan

Dominic Giannini 18 May 2021 31
ACT Greens

The ACT Greens’ female candidates for the 2020 election have announced a new COVID-19 recovery plan that focuses on gender equality in the Territory. Photos: Michelle Kroll.

The ACT Greens will provide the option for people to take on a four-day work week and more work-from-home opportunities in the ACT Public Service (ACTPS) as a part of a new gender-led recovery package that aims to increase access to jobs and opportunities for women in the ACT.

The new policy platform, released three months ahead of this year’s ACT election, will look to balance the scales for women who have been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greens say.

“There are opportunities for us to do a lot more for people who are having a hard time at the moment,” the Greens’ campaign spokesperson for women, Emma Davidson, said.

“Gender equality and women’s rights are essential to getting through this pandemic together.

“The ACT Public Service leads by example in things like working conditions and pay levels so it would be great to see more opportunities to have a four-day working week, the flexibility to work from home regularly and to look at how [people can] get the balance right for themselves.”

The ACT Government’s 15-hour-a-week free childcare policy for three-year-olds would also be expedited under the package.

SEE ALSO: Uncertainty increases as free childcare ends.

Childcare for four-year-olds in the Territory is currently free for up to 600 hours per year at a cost of about $35.6 million a year, shared between the ACT and Federal Governments.

The ACT Government announced that the scheme would be extended to three-year-olds in 2018. However, in 2020 only the first phase has been implemented which offers 300 places for priority children and an additional 100 places for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children.

Emma Davidson

ACT Greens’ candidate Emma Davidson says the new plan will give more opportunities to women in the ACT.

With more flexibility around working conditions and easier access to childcare, more support would be given to both men and women who have been impacted by COVID-19, Ms Davidson said.

“It is important that we look at the four-day working week and see how that supports men as well. There are a lot of people during the disruption who have had a rethink about how they want to get balance in their life,” she said.

“How you pay the bills is not defined by your gender so in our workplaces we should be more flexible and have those conversations between employers and staff about how we get it right.”

However, the Greens’ policy is unclear about the specifics of the four-day working week and working from home, including whether the option would be mandatory or the prorating of pay scales.

“For a lot of people, that is a decision that they need to make as individuals. What we want is to open up the options and open up the flexibility,” Ms Davidson said.

Gender weighting in criteria for funding or contracts, scholarships for women in year 9 and 10 in trades and the renewable energy sector, and more jobs in women-dominated industries will also be utilised to ensure women get more opportunities in a post-COVID-19 society.

More street lights, and on-demand and flexibus services to make it safer for women returning home at night, dedicated swimming pool times for Muslim women and more access to sexual and reproductive health services round off the new proposal.

The cost of the new policies remains unknown, although the Greens’ said costings had been done and would be made available soon.

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31 Responses to Four-day work week for public service part of Greens’ gender-recovery COVID-plan
John Moulis John Moulis 4:05 pm 16 Jul 20

A four day working week for public servants? Bring it on. Currently they work no days a week.

rsm1105 rsm1105 10:46 am 16 Jul 20

The policy is unclear in relation to the pro-rating of pay??

Obviously, a carefully thought out and constructed policy.

paulmuster paulmuster 8:17 am 16 Jul 20

Considering how strong the evidence base is to support a 4 day working week, this article would have done well to give some examples of private sector firms who have adopted the 4 day working week (on full pay) and noticed an increase in output.

Despite what the the chorus of sky news cooked Karen’s below would have you believe – there is no shortage of examples.

    chewy14 chewy14 5:31 pm 16 Jul 20

    The question would have to be asked though, are those private sector businesses equivalent to these public sector areas, with similar work cultures, ethics and employees to allow that sort of flexibility.

    In my experience, businesses that offered this level of work flexibility already had the culture and people to make it work. So there would need to be some evidence of causative factors from the flexible work practices rather than correlation to success.

    ssek ssek 8:23 pm 16 Jul 20

    Well then why don’t you provide one, champ?

    I’ll guarantee these examples consist of 9.5 to 10 hour days, so no less time spent at work.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 5:36 pm 15 Jul 20

This is absolutely not the time for pace-setting in public sector terms and conditions of employment.

For the great majority of jobs, there should be no problems with recruitment and retention – far from it, given what is happening to employment in the private sector.

If the argument is about leading the way for private sector employers who have yet to see the light, most of them will be somewhat more focused on just surviving – if policies like this will contribute that objective, they will be able to work it out without the benefit of prods from taxpayer funded virtue signalling and sweetheart deals.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 9:21 am 15 Jul 20

Any manifesto with a gender agenda is to be actively avoided.

Acton Acton 7:43 am 15 Jul 20

Baby steps. Future Greens plans for the ACT Public Service will be working one day a week, from home, on full weeks pay, with all appointments, promotions and voluntary redundancies only for Greens preferred groups. Words to be banned will include merit, accountability, efficiency and common sense.

    Capital Retro Capital Retro 12:51 pm 15 Jul 20

    It appears that tree hugging is now an alien concept for The Greens.

Guy Filmer Guy Filmer 7:16 am 15 Jul 20

How embarrassing. 🤪

Phil Slater Phil Slater 6:57 am 15 Jul 20

Dedicated swim times? The world has gone mad.

John Elliott John Elliott 5:28 am 15 Jul 20

Any policy the Greens come up with should be put in the bin.

chewy14 chewy14 10:35 pm 14 Jul 20

For a party that is apparently against systemic discrimination, they sure do propose a lot of it.

Steven Campbell Steven Campbell 10:28 pm 14 Jul 20

If we lump all the actual work that get done by a public servant in a week. A one day work week will suffice.

Hamish Wise Hamish Wise 8:55 pm 14 Jul 20

Public servants hardly do 4 days work at the best of times

Archie Mac Archie Mac 7:56 pm 14 Jul 20

No brainer to work from home.

Dave Willcox Dave Willcox 7:20 pm 14 Jul 20

Greens come with the best ideas... didn’t realise they were still a political party

    Ian Bullock Ian Bullock 8:20 pm 14 Jul 20

    Dave Willcox somewhat irrelevant political party these days

Natasha Newman Natasha Newman 6:54 pm 14 Jul 20

Would like to see how they would implement an appropriate evaluation process on a gender weighted criterion within a tender process. Sounds like another local industry participation weighting fiasco all over again. Make it a criterion but not mandatory weighted, make it a risk based criterion.

Andrew Dale Andrew Dale 6:46 pm 14 Jul 20

Allowing we arent in a covid situation ...

Why should they work from home?

Can people in private businesses do the same?

I think not.

    Natasha Newman Natasha Newman 6:50 pm 14 Jul 20

    Andrew Dale less tax payer funded buildings and rent if the admin workers aren't in them. Private administrative industries utilise working from home quite a bit to also lessen overhead costs. Not the worst idea put forward.

    Andrew Dale Andrew Dale 6:51 pm 14 Jul 20

    Natasha Newman I'm not sure how that would work considering government departments sign long leases for office space so we would be paying rent for more empty spaces

    Jonathan Nicholl Jonathan Nicholl 10:46 pm 14 Jul 20

    Andrew Dale I work in a private business and now work mainly from home. Depends on the job I reckon

    Lisa Mahon Lisa Mahon 10:57 am 15 Jul 20

    Lots of private businesses have staff work from home!

    Andrew Dale Andrew Dale 11:41 am 15 Jul 20

    Lisa Mahon I would agree to, some do..

Michael Groenhout Michael Groenhout 6:28 pm 14 Jul 20

Another early 2000s Christian rock band cover

Russell Nankervis Russell Nankervis 6:21 pm 14 Jul 20

Love the Greens. Extraordinary times call for Extraordinary measures

ssek ssek 5:26 pm 14 Jul 20

This is one of the dumbest virtue signals I have ever read, but I suppose that’s not surprising considering it came from the greens. COVID does not care about your gender. It does not “disproportionately affect women”. That is an outright falsehood.

Apart from the lies and virtue signalling, they haven’t even bothered to think out how this will work.

Nothing more than a buzzword filled election stunt. Zero substance, like the entirety of the ACT greens.

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