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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 7 Hansard (1 July) . . Page.. 3229..


MR PRATT (continuing):

believe that this bill not only benefits employees but also gives flexibility to employers in Canberra.

This bill allows Canberra businesses, in particular small businesses, to be attractive to employees by offering benefits such as annual leave. It also allows them to be cost-effective and to engage the employee only for the hours they are needed each week, be it 10 or 20 hours. It also supports employees by allowing them to access accrued annual leave even if they work only 10 or 20 hours per week.

Mr Speaker, the opposition is a flexible opposition. We support Canberra employers and employees concurrently, ensuring that employment benefits are advantageous to all. We hope to see the government make more changes to current restrictive schemes relating to employers.

Finally, Mr Speaker, as this is a workplace relations policy that benefits employees and employers, the opposition supports the bill.

MS DUNDAS (9.56): Mr Speaker, this bill makes a sensible and necessary change to the Annual Leave Act by ensuring that all part-time employees are able to accrue annual leave. This minor alteration to the act underlies an important principle of equality in the workplace.

Part-time workers are often women who use the flexibility of part-time work to combine work and family responsibilities. The ACT Democrats recognise the growing pressure felt by the 60 per cent of workers who have family responsibilities and the need for flexible workplaces that are friendlier to families. The ACT needs to improve the security and conditions of part-time work and to assist working families, and this bill is one small but significant step in doing that.

According to the October labour force statistics released by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 28 per cent of the ACT workforce are part-time workers and two-thirds of those workers are women. Government policies governing part-time work differentially affect women, and will often most affect women with a partner and dependent children.

Women have increasingly moved into the Australian workforce since the 1960s. Part-time work has been particularly attractive to women as it allows them to have both social contact and the satisfaction accruing from employment, as well as leaving them enough time to attend to child-rearing and other social activities.

However, as Judy Macinolty notes in The Economist 18 July 1998:

"Part-time" seems to equate all too often to "second-class". One woman "previously in a high-powered full-time job, returned to work part-time after childbirth and found that 'everyone behaved as though I had suddenly gone dumb'". Many women prefer the flexibility of part-time work and employers like them not only for that reason but because they cost less and, more often than not, achieve much more than the hours suggest.

Yet part-time workers are more likely to be passed over for promotions. Part-time jobs are rarely advertised despite the fact that part-time workers make up more than a quarter of the workforce. Many women still find it difficult to secure part-time work after the


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