All jobs should be advertised as flexible and workplaces with flexible cultures should be encouraged in order to reduce the pay gap, equality campaigners have said.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission say that offering all jobs as flexible will remove the barriers faced by women and disabled people who are more likely to have to negotiate flexible working or accept part-time jobs that are often low-paid.
Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the EHRC, said: “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.
“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.”
The recommendation is one of six the EHRC have said are needed to “shake up” working culture to reduce pay gaps.
Others include that there should be a ring-fenced ‘use it or lose it’ parental leave for fathers with a meaningful pay rate, to encourage both sexes to share childcare responsibilities.
Mental health pay gap
EHRC also found complexities in the pay gap issue. In research 'what does the pay gap look like?', it found that the disability pay gap was at 13.6% and that current figures calculate the gender pay gap at 18.1%.
However, this was only part of the story, they said. Other findings showed the causes often missed out of debates that focus only on the headline figures.
It found that men were more likely to be disadvantaged in their pay for mental health problems than women, for example.
While men with depression or anxiety have a pay gap of around 30%, women with depression or anxiety have a pay gap of 10%.
“The inequalities in pay for ethnic minority groups and disabled people also need to be talked about,” said Waters. “We’re launching this strategy to kick start the change we need. This includes action to tackle inequalities across the board, including those who are trapped in low pay who often get missed from the headlines.”
Acas has backed the calls for flexible working. Head of diversity, 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.
"Employers who want to make sure women with children don't miss out on the top jobs should make flexible working available for men and women.”
Matthew Percival, head of employment at the Confederation of British Industry, also supported the plans. He told iNews: “The pay gap 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. That is why the CBI supports businesses, where possible, offering flexible working from job adverts onwards.”
The report is available in full here: http://bit.ly/2uEUon4
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