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UK – Flexible working should be offered for all jobs, according to equality watchdog

Every job should be advertised as open to flexible working, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The equality watchdog adds recommends a shake up of working culture and practices in order to reduce pay gaps. They added that greater support should be given to fathers to play more of a role in child care. The commission outlined a strategy to reduce pay gaps in the UK and they are making six recommendations that outline the action needed by government, in society and in businesses to improve equality in earnings for women, ethnic minorities and disabled people.

“We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps, it’s not just about more women at the top,” Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said. “Yes, female representation is important but tackling pay gaps is far more complicated than that. 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.”

The commission’s strategy, ‘Fair opportunities for all: A strategy to reduce pay gaps in Britain’, presses for flexible working to be encouraged in all jobs at all levels and 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

“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,” Waters said. “Subject choices and stereotypes in education send children of all genders, abilities, and racial backgrounds on set paths. These stereotypes are then reinforced throughout the workplace in recruitment, pay and progression. For this to change, we need to overhaul our culture and make flexible working the norm; looking beyond women as the primary caregivers and having tough conversations about the biases that are rife in our workforce and society.”