Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour Leadership contender. has published an ‘Equality Policy’ which commits to some interesting, straightforward, yet quite radical employment solutions.
He argues that: “Women have faced discrimination at home, at work and in the street for too long and that it was time to end “timid measures”.
The headlines of the Equality Policy are: Working towards free childcare. Making every company publish equal pay audits. Giving all workers unfair dismissal rights from Day 1. Abolishing employment tribunal fees. Women to make 50% of his Cabinet and aim to have 50% of Labour MP’s being women (same for House of Commons). Extend the 3 months limitation period for some discrimination cases.
Certainly the ideals are superb, even though it is clear that it may take some years to provide funding for policies like free childcare. Others like publishing equal pay audits, and improving unfair dismissal rights, are more feasible in the shorter term. Abolishing employment tribunal fees will cost in terms of a loss of some revenues, but the overall benefits in terns of improving the rights of workers is something that should be welcomed.
As somebody who brought the ‘All-Women Shortlists’ challenge against the Labour Party you may be surprised to learn that I wholeheartedly welcome the proposals for 50% of his Cabinet and 50% of Labour MP’s being women. Indeed, I support this approach because I believe it can be achieved without the positive discrimination of all-women shortlists. In fact, I proposed the idea of the pairing of constituencies for the selection of MP’s. The logic being that is that party members would then vote for the best female and male candidate (they must use both of their votes to ensure a female/male outcome). The female/male candidate who gets the most votes then chooses which of the two constituency seats they wish to stand in at the election.
The physical image of 50% of the Cabinet comprising of women could establish a major visual example for all companies. It would visually demonstrate that women should have an equal say within society. It could lead to the breaking of the glass ceiling that has plagued women within our society.
Missing from the Equality Policy is a commitment to enabling a ‘Job Share’ for MP’s. Which is a shame, but maybe after further consultation Jeremy Corbyn could be persuaded to include such a commitment.
Yes, the Jeremy Corbyn Equality Policy document has some significant financial implications. However, it moves the equality agenda forwards considerably. Indeed, it moves British society forwards beyond current expectations. It’s a major step for humankind.
Dr Peter Jepson is the editor of LawsBlog. He tweets as @LawsBlog