All jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working, and greater support should be given to fathers to play more of a role in child care in order to reduce pay gaps, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The call comes as the Commission publishes its strategy for tackling gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps.
Fair opportunities for all: A strategy to reduce pay gaps in Britain says 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. Creating work places with flexible cultures will increase opportunities for everyone, says the EHRC.
It also calls for fathers to be given extra ‘use it or lose it’ paternity leave paid at the right level which it says will encourage more men to ask for flexible working, reducing the ‘motherhood penalty’ that many women face after having children and increasing the opportunities for them to progress.
The strategy also calls for action to address career choices, on training, on childcare and on tackling bias in recruitment. It calls for the introduction of a new national target for senior and executive management positions and says reporting on gender pay gaps should be extended to ethnicity and disability.
The strategy highlights the complex causes of pay gaps, which it says are often missed out of debates that focus only on the headline figures. Current figures calculate the gender pay gap at 18.1%, the ethnic minority pay gap at 5.7% and the disability pay gap at 13.6%. For instance, it says several ethnic minorities have high proportions of people being paid less than the living wage. From 2011 to 2014, this was almost half of Bangladeshi men and around a third of Pakistani men. This compares with under a fifth of White British men. The largest ethnicity pay gaps are:
Most female ethnic minority groups had a pay advantage over White British women. However, female Bangladeshi immigrants and Pakistani immigrants both experienced around a 12% pay gap compared with White British women
Also, the EHRC says those with physical impairments generally earn less than non-disabled people, but the pay gaps for men with neurological or mental health conditions are particularly large:
The research also highlights that women, disabled people and people from some ethnic minority groups are more likely to be paid below the living wage. The EHRC says this means that caution should be given to comparing sizes of pay gaps. For instance, the pay gap between disabled women and non-disabled women is smaller than the pay gap between disabled men and non-disabled men. This is because women in general are more likely to be paid less to begin with.