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£20,000 FOR MANAGER MUM REFUSED JOB-SHARE

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Marketing support manager Janet Schofield has received a£2O,OOO ...
Marketing support manager Janet Schofield has received a£2O,OOO

payout from Zurich Insurance Company after being refused a job-share when she returned to work from maternity leave. While the company allowed job-sharing at non-managerial levels, she was told that it was not feasible for two managers.

Backed by the Equal Opportunities Commission, Ms Schofield, took a claim of sex discrimination against Zurich. Zurich has agreed to settle Ms Schofield's claim and to review its job-share policy in relation to managers, with EOC advice.

Welcoming the settlement, Elizabeth Hodder, EOC deputy chairwoman said: 'Access at a senior level to job-share and part-time working is a crucial issue for both individuals and employers. If women are ever to break through the glass ceiling, it is essential that employers offer family-friendly policies like job-sharing at managerial level. Women now make up 55% of workers in non-manual jobs, but still account for only 15% of senior and middle managers.

'Employers have to show strong objective business reasons for not making job-sharing available to staff with family responsibilities. Smart employers already know that working practices encouraging mothers to return to work maximises their financial investment. Keeping the skills and experience of senior staff and reducing retraining and turnover costs is good business sense.'

Janet Schofield had worked for Zurich Insurance for four years. She went on maternity leave in December 1995. Before returning to work, she and another manager applied to job-share a post. After being turned down she subsequently wrote to Zurich saying she had been constructively dismissed and claimed sex discrimination.

Only 3.5% of working women become pregnant each year, and 2 out of 3 choose to return to work. In 1996 about 25% (2298) of complaints to the EOC were about pregnancy and maternity rights.

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