20 November 2020

This report shows that the UK is at a coronavirus crossroads when it comes to gender equality. The report was published on Equal Pay Day 2020, the day on which women in full time work effectively stop getting paid compared to men. 

The report highlights the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic on equality in the workplace. Some of the key findings highlighted are:

  • 43% of working women, 50% working BAME women worried about job or promotion
  • 1 in 3 working mothers have lost work or hours due to childcare
  • There is a growing role for dads and flexible working new norm are signs of hope

The report sets out the four biggest fears, and the steps Government should take to stop them from being realised.

  • Equal pay is not realised and the gender pay gap widens. Government should modernise our equal pay legislation by introducing the Right to Know and reintroduce and strengthen gender pay gap reporting.
  • Women experience growing discrimination at work including in redundancies. Government should legislate to properly protect pregnant women and new mothers from redundancy, and require employers to report sex disaggregated redundancies data on to shine a light on discrimination.
  • The childcare sector collapses and gender inequality widens. Government should create a bailout fund for the childcare sector to mitigate existing losses and cover deficits until demand recovers.
  • Jobs in female-dominated sectors are lost long-term. Government must publish Equality Impact Assessments for all job creation and support schemes, including the Kickstart Scheme, and amend policy in line with those assessments to ensure it works for women.

The report also demonstrates that there are reasons to be hopeful – the changes to how we work and live brought on by the pandemic means we have the opportunity to choose the road towards gender equality. The report identifies the four signs of hope, with key policy asks:

  • Flexible working becomes the norm. Government should seize on the increase in flexible working to legislate to make all jobs flexible, and advertised as such, unless there is a clear business requirement not to.
  • Fathers provide a greater share of unpaid care. Although mothers have been taking on more unpaid care than fathers, during lockdown fathers doubled the time they spent on childcare. Government should reform parental leave to create a longer, better paid period of reserved leave for fathers and second carers.
  • Workplaces respond to the need for intersectional equality. Government should reintroduce and extend gender pay gap reporting requirements to include ethnicity pay gap reporting. And require employers to publish action plans setting out the steps they will take to advance equality in their workplaces.
  • Society values our carers better and we invest in our social care infrastructure. We should pay carers better not just clap for them. Government should sustainably invest in our social care infrastructure to ensure a Real Living Wage for all care workers as a minimum, and end exploitative terms and conditions.

Read the full report here