Working families review of 2019 – part 2

As 2019 draws to an end, we look back at the main developments for working families in the second third of the year.

working families 2019


In part 2 of our review of the year, we look at the main reports, announcements and events relating to working families in 2019.


The World Health Organization has identified the symptoms of burn-out, recognising it as an occupational hazard as concerns about mental well being in the workplace rise up the agenda.

Nearly 60 per cent of businesses are considering a blanket approach to managing IR35 when it is rolled out to private firms, according to a report. IR35 was introduced in 2000 with the aim of countering tax avoidance and specifically aimed at the limited company contractors that organisations hire.  Contractors fear some businesses will cease using contractors working through personal service companies as a result.

Over half of women who suffer period-related illnesses have lied about their reasons for taking time off, according to a survey.

The Court of Appeal rules that it is not discriminatory for employers to enhance maternity pay while not enhancing shared parental pay.

The Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, Maria Miller MP introduces a 10-minute Rule Bill in the House of Commons which seeks to prohibit redundancy during pregnancy and maternity leave and for six months after the end of the pregnancy or leave, except in specified circumstances, and for connected purposes. It says women who experience a stillbirth or miscarriage woiuld similarly be protected for up to six months from the end of their pregnancy or any leave they are entitled to.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission names and shames 47 organisations that have failed to report their latest gender pay gap following the March and April deadlines.

Almost twice as many men as women work from home, according to a TUC analysis for National Work From Home Day.

Employees are three times more likely to feel comfortable discussing common physical health problems with their employer than  similar mental health problems, according to a survey for Mental Health Awareness Week.

Three organisations that failed to report their gender pay gap information on time for the second year in a row are publicly named and shamed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission. They are Typhoo Tea Ltd, Charlotte Tilbury Beauty Limited and Northern Automotive Systems Ltd.

Swedish car maker Volvo launches a pilot gender-neutral parental leave policy for all its sales people in Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Women are much less likely to believe they should be paid for time spent travelling between assignments for their job which could mean many may effectively be being paid less than the minimum wage, according to a Government poll.

Job design and flexible recruitment are key to talent attraction and retention, according to a report by Working Families and Bright Horizons.

The Women and Equalities Committee published its submission to the Government’s consultation on pregnancy and maternity discrimination protections, welcoming government proposals to provide an additional period of protection against redundancy for new mothers, but saying the proposals need to go further with regard to enforcement of existing and new rights.

Centrica plc announces that it is working with Carers UK to lobby the Government to introduce five to 10 days of mandatory paid carers leave for all employees.


New parents who take time out to care for a child and work part time should be given a £2,000 pension top-up to address the pension gap that results, according to a report from Which?.

The campaign to extend parental leave for parents of premature babies stepped up after an open letter from charities and MPs was sent to the Government.

The Women and Equalities Committee condemns the “routine cover-up” of allegations of unlawful discrimination and harassment in the workplace and the fact that some employers fail to investigate allegations of unlawful discrimination properly – or at all.

Over-work, stress and poor work-life balance are undermining attempts to improve job quality in the UK, according to a survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.

Two million parents are in insecure work and earning less than the real Living Wage – an independently calculated rate which takes into account what employees and their families need to live, according to a report by the Living Wage Foundation.

The gender pay gap has closed by just 0.2 percentage points since the gender pay audits were brought in, according to an analysis by XpertHR who say employers may be forced to draw up and publish action plans as a result.

Campaigners for parental rights come out firmly in support of MP Stella Creasy after she wrote a powerful article on her experiences of pregnancy and miscarriage.

The TUC, women’s rights organisations and charities launch a joint campaign calling on the government to introduce a new law to make employers responsible for protecting their staff from sexual harassment at work.

The number of eligible two year olds from disadvantaged areas who are benefiting from free childcare fell from 72% to 68% in 2019, according to Government figures.

Scotland’s first minister signs off on radical plans aimed at making the country a leader in gender equality, including 50 hours free good quality, flexible childcare for all children between six months and five years old and two ‘Daddy months’ of use-it-or-lose-it paid paternity leave.

The number of people doing gig economy work has doubled in the last three years, according to TUC research.


One in four UK young mums are skipping meals every day to provide for their children, according to research from Young Women’s Trust.

FTSE 250 companies could meet a target for women in senior leadership positions set up a government-backed review if current progress is maintained, according to figures from the Hampton-Alexander Review.

The BBC claims it is making significant progress on gender pay, after releasing figures showing three women among its top 10 earning presenters compared to none three years ago.

The workplace needs to be feminised and redesigned with caring in mind, according to Women at work: designing a company fit for the future by Deborah Hargreaves.

The Government Equalities Office has published a ‘roadmap for change’ which highlights the eight main areas which it says are vital for improving gender equality.

Hard pressed parents are having to find up to £800 extra to cover the cost of childcare this summer, driving many families into debt, according to Save the Children.

Just 23 of the FTSE 100 companies publish details about their maternity, paternity, shared parental or adoption pay and leave, according to an analysis by Mumsnet.

A four-day working week could save UK businesses an estimated £104 billion annually, according to research from Henley Business School.

Employees at Molson Coors Brewing Company in the UK and Ireland will be offered up to two weeks paid annual ‘life leave’ anything from moving house to studying for an exam.

A third of Brits say parental leave should be evenly shared, but around half still think it’s best that mothers do most of the childcare, according to the latest British Social Attitudes Survey.

Britain’s leading companies are making progress on the number of women they have on their boards, but that increase continues to come almost wholly from non-executive directors, as figures from Cranfield School of Management show.

Women’s private pension pots in the UK are around a third the size of men’s by the time they approach retirement, according to a report which highlights ways to counter the gender pension gap.

The Government begins a consultation on plans to extend Statutory Sick Pay [SSP] to the lowest paid workers to help those with a disability or health condition remain in work.

Twice as many women as men work in occupations with a high potential for automation and 64 per cent of jobs in these occupations are held by women,meaning automation could increase gender inequality, according to a report by the IPPR think tank.

Conservative MP Helen Whately introduces a Flexible Working Bill at the House of Commons yesterday which aims to force employers to offer applicants flexible working unless there was a good business reason not to.

The Government launches a consultation on proposed new rights for gig workers, including entitlement to a reasonable period of notice when shifts are changed.

Prime Minister Theresa May has launched a consultation on proposed changes to parental leave entitlements, including more leave for parents of premature babies.

The Government announces plans to introduce new legislation to prohibit Non-Disclosure Agreements from being used to silence those who have been sexually harassed or bullied at work.

Nationwide Building Society announces that it is offering extended maternity leave to employees when their baby is born before the 37th week of pregnancy and four weeks hospital leave for supporting parents.

The Government commits to new redundancy protections for pregnant women and new parents, which will entitle them to an additional six months of legal protection after their return to work.

The individual approach to enforcement of equality law – which relies on individuals taking action against employers – is no longer fit for purpose, says the Women and Equalities Committee in a report of its year-long inquiry into the Equality Act.

HR experts XpertHR produce a model menopause policy for organisations to adapt to support individuals in their workforce experiencing the menopause.

The Mayor of London launches a benchmark for better employment standards, including fair pay. A range of public, private and third-sector employers have signed up to the Good Work Standard scheme, including EY, KPMG and Schroders, London City Airport and Unison.


Employment insecurity affects many people but, overall, work in the UK is as secure as it was 20 years ago, with limited evidence of growing casualisation, according to research from the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development.

A free legal advice line for women in England and Wales experiencing sexual harassment at work has been launched.

Virgin StartUp announces a public pledge to commit to a 50/50 funding target for women and men entrepreneurs by the end of 2020.

Six organisations who were being investigated for failure to report their gender pay figures have committed to reporting on time for the next five years, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission which is now taking action against employers with implausible statistics.

More than half of UK workers say that they have struggled with their mental wellbeing before with 80% of those who have struggled with their mental wellbeing before saying it impacts their work, according to a survey.

Women are no better at multitasking than men, according to a study.

Only 141,000 families were using tax-free childcare, one of the government’s key childcare policies, over the summer, with most usage concentrated among one and two year olds and in London and the South East.

One in eight employers say they would be reluctant to hire a woman who they thought may go on to have children, according to a YouGov survey for Young Women’s Trust.

A combination of a narrowing of the gender wage gap and improvements in women’s bargaining position in the household has led to a dramatic shift in the way men and women use their time over the past half century, according to research.

The number of working mums now surpasses the number of women without dependent children in work, according to figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The percentage of women working in IT has fallen over the past 20 years despite efforts to encourage more women into careers in STEM, according to an analysis by the Association of Professional Staffing Companies.


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