Transport and unpredictable hours key barriers to work for women

Transport and unpredictable hours are the key barriers to work progression for women in low-paid jobs, according to a new report.

woman taking the bus to work


Transport costs and unpredictable hours are the top barriers faced by women in low-paid and low-skill work in the UK, according to new research.

The research, conducted by the Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), was part of a global research programme focused on the UK, France, Spain, and South Africa.

The report says predictability of hours is often overlooked as an issue, but it was the second most important barrier faced by women in low-paid jobs after a long or expensive commute. Flexible working was also crucial and the report recommends that all jobs should be advertised with flexible working options available as a default and it recommends advance scheduling to improve predictability and technologically-enabled shift swapping to allow workers to swap shifts with other workers without requiring manager approval.

Other barriers include harassment at work, job security and safety. When it comes to organisational practice, it recommends automatic processes for putting forward employees who have demonstrated that they are ready for the next promotion cycle, without having to apply or be nominated. Other suggestions include increasing transparency in recruitment decisions and experience-based cvs rather than ones that list jobs in chronological order.

The report also looked at personal barriers to progress, including financial stress due to irregular hour and pay, a lack of technical training and unequal care burdens. The report recommends that employers could pay fortnightly rather than monthly to address financial stress and provide clarity to employees about the amount they would expect to earn if they were to work all their allotted shifts in the upcoming pay period. On shared parenting, the report recommends encouraging men to take longer parental leave by tackling the perception that other male colleagues would disapprove and by providing information to men as well as providing further information to people on how to access child-related financial support.

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