Should All Jobs Be Advertised As Flexible Hours?

I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago about the advent of agile working and what it spells for the future of employment. Now the Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that all jobs should be advertised as flexible hours positions, as progress towards closing the pay gap has been, “painfully slow”.

This was just one of their suggestions to tackle inequality in pay affecting women, ethnic minorities and disabled people, who are more likely to need flexible working in order to accommodate their families or handicaps.

Instead, due to the lack of flexible hours jobs, women and disabled people often find themselves forced into part-time work at lower pay. And, according to the report, the same demographics are more likely to be paid less than the living wage.

The EHRC found that the gender pay gap shrunk after the national minimum wage was introduced, but are convinced that raising expectations to the living wage would achieve nothing because, “so few women occupy the highest-paid jobs”.

Additionally, the report found that the pay gap was greater in the private sector, in part blaming the ‘bonus culture’ which tends to favour men over women. And University education was found to be a big contributor to lowering the pay gap, with the difference between graduate pay down to just 6%.

However, this is still not enough. Speaking on the suggestions made, Caroline Waters, the deputy chair of the EHRC, said: “We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps. While there has been some progress, it has been painfully slow. We need radical change now, otherwise we’ll be having the same conversation for decades to come.”

And this is particularly true when it comes to pay gaps between ethnic minorities and disabled people. As I spoke about here, the shocking ethnic pay gap is unbelievable and gets very little attention

Though the frankly unspoken pay gaps between men with or without neurological or mental health conditions are even more astounding. Men with epilepsy, for instance, are paid on average 40% less – and men with depression or anxiety disorders 30% less.

In order to reduce pay gaps across the board, the following are the high level suggestions that the EHRC have made:

  1. Unlock the earning potential of education by addressing differences in career choices, educational attainment and access to apprenticeships
  2. Improve work opportunities for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live
  3. Make jobs at all levels available on a flexible basis
  4. Encourage men and women to share childcare responsibilities
  5. Reduce prejudice and bias in recruitment, promotion and pay
  6. Report on progress in reducing pay gaps

Already British governments have taken positive steps in order to reduce pay gaps. The Welsh government has set equality objectives in order to identify and reduce the causes of inequalities, and the UK government has introduced gender pay gap reporting, with the Scottish and Welsh governments requiring reports from all public bodies.

On top of this, all British governments have encouraged companies to improve representation of different ethnicities and genders on their boards. So as you can see we’re certainly on the right track, but there’s still a lot more to be done.

The full report from the EHRC can be found here.

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