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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 30 April 2007

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THE Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has signed the Work Wise UK concordat supporting the adoption of new smarter working across the UK. The EOC joins many other signatories such as the CBI, TUC, British Chambers of Commerce, BT and Transport for London, all pulling together to bring about a workstyle revolution which will make the UK the most progressive economy in the world.

The agreement states:- “This concordat brings together the signatories in a joint statement supporting the development and implementation of smarter working practices and as an example, and encouragement, to others to do likewise. The goal is to increase significantly the use of these practices by 2011. Such advancements will not only benefit companies, communities and individuals, but the UK economy as a whole, making it more productive and competitive in the global marketplace.”

At the signing, Jenny Watson, chair of the EOC said:- “The Commission is fully committed to promoting smarter working practices – for the benefit of all. This is not just a working parents issue – flexible working practices can increase productivity and competitiveness and should be available to anyone struggling to achieve a work-life balance, whether this is to provide care for an older relative or pursue a passion for sky-diving. Society must catch up with the reality of modern life."

Phil Flaxton, Work Wise UK’s chief executive, said:- “Today’s work culture is from another era. Not only is it wanting in terms of efficient use of resources and the impact upon the environment, it discriminates against those who have a family, who have aged relatives or who have a disability.  Organisations are beginning to realise that not only are they failing to tap into a valuable skills pool, but by adopting new smarter working practices, they increase productivity in the workplace as a whole.”

Organisations and employees across the UK, both public and private, are being invited to take part in the second annual Work Wise Week (16 May 2007 to 22 May 2007) to continue helping create a ‘smarter’ working Britain. The week includes a number of events and National Work from Home day on Friday, 18 May 2007. During the week, organisations will be encouraged to participate in smarter working practices such as allowing staff to stagger their commute and working from home.

Work Wise UK, a not-for-profit initiative, is in the 1st of a 5 year programme to promote the wider adoption of smarter working practices, such as flexible working including compressed working hours and nine day fortnights, working from home, mobile and remote working, to bring about a workplace revolution, similar in impact to the Industrial Revolution which Great Britain led in the 19th century.  Both the public and private sectors agree that the benefits of smarter working are enormous: apart from the positive implications on employees’ work-life balance and travelling time, the improvements in productivity will help the UK meet the competitive challenges presented by the emerging economies, such as India and China.

The aim is for thousands of other organisations to sign the concordat, via the Work Wise website ( over the coming months, demonstrating their commitment to revolutionising the workplace.

Majority of people agree with a demand for legislation on age equality

77% of people in the North West think it should be unlawful to refuse someone goods and services on the basis of their age, in line with other forms of discrimination such as racism and sexism which are already banned.  Examples of age discrimination in goods and services include, doctors dismissing pain as just getting old, travel insurance companies not offering quotes if you’re over 75 and banks refusing loans on the basis of age.

The views of people from the North West echo those from around the UK. The new survey reveals 81% of people in the UK would like to see an end to age discrimination in goods and services.  The findings of the survey, carried out by GfK NOP as part of the Help the Aged Just Equal Treatment campaign, show widespread support for key legislation the charity is demanding in its fight for age equality and comes at a crucial time in the debate.

Currently, the Government is preparing to launch a public consultation on age discrimination before making its final decisions on the Discrimination Law Review – the proposals for new laws to be drawn up in the forthcoming Single Equalities Bill.

Kate Jopling, Senior Policy Manager, Help the Aged, says:- “At this critical time, it is encouraging to see such a groundswell of support from residents in the North West for a ban on ageist practises. We have a small but crucial window of time to affect legislation and achieve change.  Older people want and deserve equal treatment. To date, age discrimination remains the last acceptable form of discrimination – and that’s unacceptable.”

So far lobbyists from around the country have joined the Help the AgedJust Equal Treatmentcampaign, including over 250 older people who travelled to Westminster to meet their MP face-to-face at the Mass Lobby for Age Equality, held at Westminster, 18 April.  Backed by Help the Aged, lobbyists are calling for 2 new pieces of legislation... a ban on age discrimination in the provision of goods, facilities and services, and a positive duty on public bodies to promote age equality.

Help the Aged is urging all people in the North West who have been affected by age discrimination, or know someone who has, to write to their MP.

For a quick and easy way to send your message to your local MP online or to receive a lobbying pack with a readymade postcard for your MP contact Help the Aged on: 0207 239 1955.

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