The Fawcett Society have marked Equal Pay Day – the day of the year on which women stop earning relative to men – by releasing a report warning the UK is at a crossroads on equal pay.
Equal Pay Day fell slightly later this year (20 November, as opposed to 14 November last year) on account of the gender pay gap narrowing slightly. In their report, the Fawcett Society (a charity campaigning for gender equality) have highlighted that the pandemic has created a situation where the UK could either set back gender equality ‘decades’, or push on and create ‘long-term positive change’.
The report emphasizes new evidence that more women are likely to have been furloughed during the pandemic and are therefore more likely to be at risk of redundancy when this scheme ends. The report also notes that a collapsing childcare sector could negatively impact women in the workplace.
There are, however, ‘signs of hope’. Flexible working has become the new normal, with employees able to demonstrate that they can be just as productive at home. The Society argues that if this is to continue post-pandemic, it would not only benefit working mothers, but also fathers looking to spend more time with their children.
The Society has a number of recommendations for the Government, such as improving parental leave entitlements and legislating that all roles should be advertised as flexible wherever possible. However, it is worth noting that employers too can play their part in ensuring the UK continues to narrow the gender pay gap. Employers should now begin assessing the impact of their own policies, and consider whether the ‘new normal’ of flexible working can be continued into the post-pandemic workplace.