2016: a review

It’s been a tumultuous year with Brexit likely to dominate politics and business for the foreseeable future and the implications for jobs and workers still unclear. Here Workingmums.co.uk gives a rundown of the main developments for gender diversity and flexible working in 2016, month by month.

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The year began with a prediction by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development that unemployment would continue to fall in 2016, but wage growth would remain at around 2%, with productivity the biggest problem facing managers. The CIPD said good leadership was the key to economic prosperity.

Meanwhile a report from Scottish Widows reported parents saying better work life balance would boost their productivity, meaning they would be happier and more focused at work.

A survey of 1,000 people from a cross section of the UK workforce undertaken by law firm Simpson Millar found only 32% of women believed they were paid the same as their male colleagues for equal work and almost half were prepared to ask for a pay rise if a gender pay audit in their company showed they were being paid less than a male colleague for equal work.

Mercer’s second annual When Women Thrive report found women were under-represented in the workforce globally and said that if organisations maintain the current rate of progress, female representation in the professional and managerial ranks would reach only 40% globally by 2025.

A new code of practice on smart working was launched. The Smart Working Code of Practice, launched by BSI, the business standards company, in collaboration with the Cabinet Office, aims to support organisations in implementing smart working principles.


A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies predicted over two million families would get fewer benefits under Universal Credit in the long run, although many who currently faced the most severe disincentives would be supported to help make work pay.

The Government appointed Glaxo Smith Kline chairman Sir Philip Hampton to lead the next phase of the independent review to promote more women to FTSE 350 boards.

A report published by the Government Equalities Office and Deloitte outlined best practice in tackling the gender pay gap, which is caused by lack of career progression by women to top roles.

Eliminating pay inequality arising from gender discrimination would have a significant positive impact on any country’s national output, according to research by Tiago Cavalcanti from the University of Cambridge and José Tavares from the Nova School of Business and Economics in Lisbon.

The growing number of self employed need more support so they are on more of an equal footing with the employed, according to an independent review commissioned by the Government.

Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women and Equalities, announced firms with over 250 employees would have to publish their gender pay gap on their websites and new league tables would show which of the UK’s employers have the worst gap.

The UK is on the verge of a flexible working ‘tipping point’ – when working away from the office becomes more common than working solely from a desk, 9am-5pm, according to a report  produced by Lancaster University’s Work Foundation.


Women who become mothers before the age of 33 earn 15% less than similar women who haven’t had children, according to analysis published by the TUC.

Mums experience a motherhood penalty and are viewed as less committed, while dads receive a ‘daddy bonus’ and are regarded as more committed, according to a survey by the Fawcett Society.

Just over a quarter of employers and 34 per cent of larger employers conducts any gender pay analysis of staff, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.

A global fatherhood campaign launched a campaign for equal parental leave for men and women. MenCare launched a platform to lobby governments to adopt parental leave polices that are equal for men and women, non-transferable between parents and paid according to each parent’s salary.

Secondary schools in England will be able to increase the length of the school day under plans announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his Budget.

Santander became the first employer to extend its Shared Parental Leave scheme to include grandparents.

The Government is complicit in a system that is undermining productivity and perpetuating the gender pay gap and should implement changes including recommending that all jobs to be flexible by default unless there is a strong business case for them not to be, according to a report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.

Three quarters of pregnant women and new mothers experience discrimination and one in nine lose their job as a result, according to research commissioned by the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills.

Turn2us.org.uk outlined benefits changes from April, including a four-year freeze to working-age benefits and tax credits, cuts to tax credits and Universal Credit due to a cut in the amount a claimant’s income can increase in-year without seeing a reduction in tax credit entitlement – and a reduction in Universal Credit Work Allowance – the amount you can earn without your benefit being affected.


April saw the introduction of the National Living Wage.

One year one from the implementation of Shared Parental Leave, just 1% of men have so far taken it up while 55% of women say they wouldn’t want to share their maternity leave, according to research from My Family Care and the Women’s Business Council.

McDonald’s announced it was trialling giving staff the ability to opt out of hourly contracts and choose fixed hours.

Fathers working full time get paid a fifth more than men with similar jobs who don’t have children, according to a report published by the TUC.

British workers clock up £43bn worth of unpaid overtime every year, with men doing more overtime and women more likely to work through lunch, according to a survey by reed.co.uk.

Compass Group, a leading provider of contract catering and support services, made a commitment to have female chefs form 50% of its workforce by 2020.

The BBC launched a new diversity and inclusion strategy with a target for 2020 of increasing the representation of women on screen, on air and in leadership roles to 50%.


Bright & Beautiful is named Overall Top Franchise at the Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Franchise Awards.

The number of women seeking advice on pregnancy and maternity discrimination from Citizens Advice has risen by 25% in the last year, according to a report.

The Government launched a consultation on the issues faced by businesses in developing black and minority ethnic talent from recruitment through to executive level.

Recent changes to Universal Credit driven by cost-cutting moves from the Treasury have taken it too far from its original purpose and risk turning it into “a very complicated vehicle for cutting the benefits bill”,  said the Resolution Foundation think tank.

Women working flexibly are not experiencing the potential well-being benefits when compared to men due to lack of career progression, according to a study by Nottingham Business School.

The number of employees who say they usually work from home has increased by a fifth over the past decade, according to analysis published by the TUC.

Free nursery places may not boost educational attainment in children in primary school, according to a study by the universities of Essex and Surrey which has implications for the government’s policy of doubling free childcare for three and four year olds.


Employers who offer enhanced shared parental pay are twice as likely to get shared parental leave requests as those who just offer the statutory rate, according to research by XpertHR Benchmarking.

Just a third of employers have a formal, written policy or an informal, verbal policy in place to support working carers in their workplace despite estimates that three fifths of people will have caring responsibilities at some point in their lives, according to a survey by the CIPD and Westfield Health.

The number of  freelancers in the European Union rose by a quarter from 7.7 million to 9.6 million between 2008 and 2015, with the UK having the largest proportion and more women than men choosing the freelance route, according to research published by IPSE, the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self- Employed.

The Government’s proposals to double free childcare for some three and four year olds may be in jeopardy because there may not be enough providers willing to provide the additional free childcare, according to a report by the Public Accounts Committee.

Four and a half million people in England and Wales are in insecure work, according to an analysis by Citizens Advice.

Norway is the best place in Europe to become a new parent when it comes to receiving cash from employers and the government, according to a survey by money-saving website Voucherbox.co.uk.

Major changes are urgently needed to restore an acceptable level of access to the employment tribunals system, according to the Justice Committee in its report on recent and proposed changes to fees for court users in the civil and family courts and tribunals.

One in five new fathers this year didn’t qualify for paternity pay, according to analysis by the TUC.


Flexible working could have a positive impact on retention and in attracting more lapsed teachers back to the profession at a time of shortage, according to a survey by TES.

The overall percentage of women on FTSE boards has increased over the last year with Unilever becoming the first FTSE 100 company to reach gender parity on its board, but the rate of progress has slowed since October, according to the Female FTSE Report.

Three quarters of UK employees feel obliged to work beyond their contracted hours and nearly a third are taking no lunch break, according to a report by Morgan McKinley.

Seventy-two major financial services firms signed up to a new government Charter designed to improve gender diversity in senior positions within the sector.

The Mayor of London launched an action plan to tackle the gender pay gap at the Greater London Authority and its functional bodies as an audit showed a 4.6 per cent pay gap between women working full time and men.

Justine Greening was appointed Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities by Prime Minister Theresa May.

Women over 40 are now more likely to have children than those under 20, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Tens of thousands of disadvantaged two year olds are not benefiting from the free early education they are entitled to, according to an Ofsted survey.

Middle income families with children now more closely resemble poor families than in the past, according to a report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

For the first time, two areas of Britain – Wales and the East of England – have reported that they do not have enough holiday childcare across all age groups and needs, according to the annual holiday childcare survey by the Family and Childcare Trust.

The full roll-out of Universal Credit is being delayed by a year until March 2022, according to the Department for Work and Pensions.

Girls lose confidence about their ability to progress in the world of work as they progress through school, according to a survey by Girlguiding.


Lack of access to affordable childcare means low-skilled mums are being forced to give up work or significantly reduce their hours after having their second child, according to a study by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

Just 1.5% of couples shared their parental leave in the first quarter of this year, according to figures from the HMRC.

More than half of women, and nearly two-thirds of those aged 18-24 years old, say they have experienced sexual harassment at work, according to research from the TUC in collaboration with the Everyday Sexism Project.

The Citizens Advice Bureau has seen a 58% increase in the number face to face enquiries about maternity leave problems in the past two years, according to a report.

Urgent action, including setting concrete targets and strengthening employment rights legislation, needs to be taken to address the ‘shocking’ level of pregnancy and maternity discrimination, according to a report from the Women and Equalities Committee.

The number of nurseries falling into insolvency in England and Wales has almost doubled in the last year and is likely to rise further, according to a report by accountancy firm Moore Stephens.

The majority of parents who have a child with a learning disability find it hard to access short breaks and respite services over the summer holiday and many struggle with childcare, according to a report by the charity Mencap.

Men are 40% more likely than women to be promoted into management roles, according to the latest research from Chartered Management Institute.


Women with young children are nearly a third less likely to be in work than men with children of the same age, according to TUC analysis.

A growing number of companies worldwide are extending the kind of support they grant for family issues to embrace areas such as elder care leave and parental support programmes and the provision of more than the statutory requirement for adoption leave, according to Mercer’s 2016 Global Parental Leave report.

A new employer-led alliance was formed to fight against pregnancy and maternity discrimination by promoting best practice.

Almost seven in 10 of stay-at-home mums would go back to work if flexible working around childcare was an option, according to a survey by Digital Mums and the Centre for Economic and Business Research.

The Fabian Women’s Network launched a Women’s Rights Charter at Labour’s annual women’s conference in Liverpool, calling on the government to make a number of commitments to women following the Brexit vote.

Labour announced plans to launch a taskforce to “transform early years provision for every family in the 21st century”.

Parents could end up paying for a funding crisis over the government’s plans for free nursery places, warned the Pre-School Learning Alliance.

The TUC called on the Prime Minister to assure working people she would protect employment rights that are currently guaranteed by the EU and to make sure British workers don’t fall behind European workers in the future.


Network Rail was ordered to pay nearly £30,000 to a father who claimed indirect discrimination when he was not given enhanced pay on Shared Parental Leave.

Over half of British mothers feel they have been held back at work after having children, compared to less than a quarter of fathers, according to a survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians.

Over half of the UK’s working population want the opportunity to work remotely or from home, but just a third have been encouraged to, with many feeling a constant stigma around it, according to a survey by My Family Care and recruitment experts Hydrogen.

The Women’s Business Council announced plans to launch a new sponsorship initiative that aims to get senior men to sponsor and mentor women further down the career ladder.

A petition to get Parliament to extend maternity leave for mothers of premature babies gathered enough signatures for it to be debated in Parliament.

The gender pay gap for full-time workers has fallen slightly linked to the introduction of the National Living Wage, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The Government should extend Statutory Maternity Pay to 52 weeks and provide 15 hours of free childcare to all children from the ages of one to four, according to the Confederation of British Industry.

British businesses are losing nearly £280 million each year as a result of women being forced out of their jobs by pregnancy and maternity discrimination, according to research by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

Uber drivers won their case to be considered as workers rather than self employed, meaning they have a right to holidays, paid rest breaks and the National Living Wage.

Up to 300 workers at IT giant Fujitsu in Manchester announced strike action in a dispute over the gender pay gap, pensions and job security.

Nearly one in five [18%]  of working mums have been forced to leave their jobs because a flexible working request has been turned down, according to Workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey.


Sky [pictured] is named Overall Top Employer at the Workingmums.co.uk’s Top Employer Awards.

Jayne-Anne Gadhia, CEO of Virgin Money, was appointed the official Women in Finance Champion by the Government and will drive its Women in Finance initiative.

The number of working people challenging discrimination or unfair treatment at work has fallen by 9,000 a month since charges of up to £1,200 came in, according to figures published by the TUC.

A third of senior executive positions in FTSE 100 companies should be taken by women by the end of 2020, according to a government-backed review.

Women are the biggest losers of the ongoing tax and benefits changes introduced since 2010, according to research by the Women’s Budget Group.

The gender pay gap in the UK’s high tech sector (25%) is significantly higher than the national average (18%), but the reasons are more complex than simply equal pay for jobs of equal value, according to the latest data from consultancy Mercer.

Lower earnings growth, higher inflation and ongoing welfare cuts detailed in the Autumn Statement mean that a renewed income squeeze is set to be even more severe than that seen in the last parliament, according to a report published by the Resolution Foundation think tank.

Half of women say the menopause has made their work life worse and a quarter say they have considered leaving their jobs because of the menopause, according to a survey for an ITV progamme.

More women need to be working in higher paying jobs and industries and at the most senior levels if the gender pay gap is to be addressed, according to a report by Korn Ferry Hay Group.

More than one in three lawyers say they would not feel comfortable even beginning the conversation about flexible working with their employer, according to a survey by My Family Care and Hydrogen.

The UK needs 1.5m new female managers in order to achieve a 50/50 split of management jobs between men and women by 2024, according to the Chartered Management Institute.


The Government’s plan to extend parents’ entitlement to free childcare from 15 to 30 hours a week for 3- and 4-year-olds in England is only likely to have a small impact on parents’ working patterns, according to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, the University of Essex and the University of Warwick.

Full-time agency workers earn £430 a year less than an identical employee in the same role despite half working on a permanent basis, according to a report by the Resolution Foundation think tank.

The number of Sure Start children’s centres closed in the last year doubled on the year before, according to figures released by the Government.

A beauty therapist successfully sued her employer for unfair dismissal and indirect sex discrimination after she was sacked because she couldn’t work weekend due to childcare problems.

The low take-up of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and the lack of affordable childcare options for parents of children under three are major problems that need to be addressed to support working parents more effectively, according to a report from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

One in 10 UK workers are now in precarious work – and the number of workers at risk of missing out on key employment protections has nearly doubled in a decade to 1.5 million, according to a TUC report.

New regulations requiring companies to report gender pay gaps will not necessarily tackle the complex reasons why women still have lower salaries, according to a study by the University of Exeter, University of Bath and Cardiff University.

The Government reported the gender pay gap stands at 18.1%, the lowest gap on record and launched an online tool to show how gender affects pay differently in a variety of professions.

The tech industry has the most number of employees taking advantage of flexi hours and remote working, according to a report from My Family Care and Hydrogen.

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