Flexible working should be offered across all jobs, says equality watchdog

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 15, 2017

The commission said all jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working in order to help women and disabled people, who are more likely to be forced in to accepting low-paid, part-time jobs than other groups.

Men and women should be encouraged to share childcare duties and fathers should be offered well-paid "use it or lose it" paternity leave to relieve the pressure on mothers to stall their careers to take care of their children, EHRC said.

Companies should report more on progress in reducing pay gaps, extending reporting to ethnicity and disability and collecting annual statistics.

Sandra Kerr, race equality director at Business in the Community, said: "Flexibility at work is not only helpful for those with caring responsibilities for children or parents, but also supports those who may need a reasonable adjustment for disability, who wish to downshift their working pattern because of age or who need flexibility for religious observance".

According to the EHRC's research, the gender pay gap is presently 18.1 per cent, the ethnic minority pay gap 5.7 per cent and the disability gap 13.6 per cent.

Ms Waters added: "The pay-gaps issue sits right at the heart of our society and is a symbol of the work we still need to do to achieve equality for all".

The equality watchdog has set out six recommendations Britain needs to implement in society and in businesses, to improve equality in earnings for women, ethnic minorities and disabled people. Whilst 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".

Pay gaps between men with or without neurological or mental health conditions were particularly large, with men with epilepsy experiencing a pay gap close to 40% and men with depression or anxiety having a pay gap of around 30%.

"These stereotypes are then reinforced throughout the workplace in recruitment, pay and progression".

Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said on Tuesday that progress on tackling pay gaps in the United Kingdom had been "painfully slow" and called for action to ensure the same conversations about the issue are not taking place for decades to come.

The EHRC said the public sector has a smaller gender pay gap than the private sector, while countries across Europe in which higher proportions of fathers take longer-term parental leave tend to have smaller disparities.

"While the right to request flexible working is available to all United Kingdom workers who have worked for the same employer for 26 weeks, it is yet to be recognised as such in practice", she said. In Sweden and Norway, it's the government who funds up to 80% to 100% of fathers' pay through higher rates of income tax for all. Currently, employers only have to consider requests from employees to work flexibly.

Head of diversity at conciliation service Acas, Julie Dennis, said: "This research shines an important light on pay gaps between ethnicities and disabled people as well as proposals to reduce the gender pay gap". While the differences are smaller than between men and women, there are stark contrasts for certain groups.

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