EHRC calls for shake up in working culture
All jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working, and greater support should be given to fathers to play more of a role in child care, in a shake-up of culture and working practices to reduce pay gaps, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said last week.
The call comes as the Commission’s comprehensive strategy for tackling gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps is released.
Fair opportunities for all: A strategy to reduce pay gaps in Britain makes six recommendations outlining the action needed by government, in society and in businesses to improve equality in earnings for women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.
Offering all jobs as flexible will remove the barriers faced by women and disabled people, says the EHRC, who are more likely to have to negotiate flexible working or accept part-time jobs that are often low-paid. Creating work places with flexible cultures will increase opportunities for everyone, giving people greater choice about the role they play both at work and home.
It goes on to say that giving fathers extra ‘use it or lose it’ paternity leave paid at the right level will encourage more men to ask for flexible working, reducing the ‘motherhood penalty’ that many women face after having children and increasing the opportunities for them to progress. This would follow a successful model adopted in Scandinavian countries.
As well as pressing for flexible working to be encouraged in all jobs at all levels, the strategy also urges governments, their agencies and employers to:
- unlock the earning potential of education by addressing differences in subject and career choices, educational attainment and access to apprenticeships
- improve work opportunities for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live by investing in sector-specific training and regional enterprise
- encourage men and women to share childcare responsibilities by making paternity leave a more effective incentive and improving access to childcare
- increase diversity at all levels and in all sectors by encouraging employers to tackle bias in recruitment, promotion and pay and introducing a new national target for senior and executive management positions
- report on progress towards reducing pay gaps by extending reporting to ethnicity and disability and collecting annual statistics