Creating a workplace that is diverse, inclusive and productive should be a priority for employers and employees across the globe. Considering these issues when you use your vote in the UK General Election on Thursday could not be more important, especially now that more of us than ever before are working. At Gapsquare, we’ve seen how important legislative and company policy is to building a fairer world of work and changing public perception around fair remuneration. We urge you to think about the following workers' rights, diversity, equality & inclusion, and pay policies when you cast your vote this week.
Workers' Rights are Women’s Rights
We’re delighted to read that all the major parties propose policies to improve workers’ rights and build sustainable and fair businesses around the country.* As well as making business sense (happy employees stick around for longer) Gapsquare have seen correlation between worker’s rights and a shrinking gender pay gap. Labour hope to ban 0 hour contracts, whilst Green pledge to close loopholes which allow employers to deny gig workers their key rights - so gig workers would receive at least the minimum wage, and have job security, sick leave, holiday pay and pension provisions.** The benefits of flexible working sees it on the agenda for Labour, the Conservatives, and the Liberal Democrats alike. These policies make it easier for employees to balance work and personal life, and ease parent’s return to the workplace after having children - the lack of which is a huge driver of occupational segregation, representation at high pay levels and, therefore, the Gender Pay Gap.
Care Responsibilities, Children & Leave
Other policies to improve the work-life balance and benefit new mothers are ostensibly a priority across the board, and it’s about time. By varying amounts, Labour, the Conservatives and Lib Dem all pledge to improve paternity leave for fathers; Labour and the SNP wish to extend maternity leave to a year, and SNP also hope to increase paternity leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father. This gives parents more time to bond with their newborns and mothers the chance to return to work more quickly.
"One of the most radical promises is the Green party’s pledge to ensure a pay ratio of 10:1"
Childcare also seems to be a priority issue, with the Tories hoping to fund more high quality childcare before and after school and during holidays. The Green party pledge a whopping 35 hours a week of free childcare for all from the age of 9 months. Research by the Young Women’s Trust and Pregnant then Screwed shows that reducing the cost of childcare could close the gap quicker, and our research at Gapsquare mirrors that of the ONS when it shows that gender pay gaps emerge after the age of thirty, when female employees increasingly have care responsibilities. Implementing policies to encourage fairer parental leave, and improving access to childcare are effective ways to solve an age-old problem.
A Real Living Wage
Similarly a fairer living wage is mentioned in various manifestos - and remains one of our metrics for pay fairness at Gapsquare. Labour pledge to increase the living wage to £10 per hour, the Conservatives to £10.50 (but more slowly), and Green up to £12 for those aged between 16 and 21. The Lib Dems and SNP also mention raising the living wage without stating an exact figure, though Lib Dem commit to setting a 20% higher minimum wage for those on zero-hour contracts to compensate for the uncertainty of fluctuating hours. One of the most radical promises is the Green party’s pledge to ensure a pay ratio of 10:1, so that no one in any organisation is paid more than ten times what the lowest member of staff is paid.
Expanding & Regulating Gap Reporting
When it comes to fair pay and pay gap reporting, the Labour Party have a fantastically forward-thinking agenda. They propose to fine companies who don’t devise and implement plans to eradicate pay inequalities, lower the threshold for gender pay gap reporting to 50 employees, extended pay gap reporting to BAME groups and people with disabilities, as well as changing legislation so that women will no longer have to take enforcement action for equal pay disputes, rather making the state responsible for enforcing equal pay legislation. The Lib Dems would also require companies to monitor and publish data on gender, BAME, disability and LGBT+ employment levels and pay gaps, and Green also hope to change the law so it’s easier to take action against employers in unequal pay cases.
Smashing the Glass Ceiling
Interestingly this election sees many parties proposing policies to rethink workforce distribution, and these quotas directly relate to pay parity and representation of minority groups at higher levels and pay grades. The Lib Dem’s manifesto is particularly progressive on this agenda, with plans to require all companies with 250+ employees to have at least one employee representative on their board, as well as staff representation on remuneration committees, giving staff in listed companies a right to request shares, and 40% female board representation in FTSE 350 companies. Green are also looking at installing a 40% quota for women on major company boards, following similar legislation in France and other European countries.
"Labour wish to reduce the average full time working week to just 32 hours."
Other interesting fair pay pledges include Labour’s wish to reduce the average full time working week to just 32 hours. We’d love to see the Lib Dems extend the use of name-blind recruitment processes in the public sector and develop free unconscious bias training as a condition of the receipt of public funds, or watch Green ban bonuses exceeding the annual wage of the lowest paid worker in the organisation and work toward pay equity.
Building a fairer future
The workplace is undeniably changing as a new generation of employees demand better rights, and as diversity, equality & inclusion concerns become more and more of a priority. We at Gapsquare urge you to consider how each party hopes to tackle these issues when you cast your vote on the 12th December - vote for a fairer future.
* We are aware of that this article doesn’t cover every party of their aims, in part because some do not have manifestos, and in part due to time restrictions. You can find out more about who is standing in your area here.
** A gig economy is a free market system in which temporary positions are common and organisations contract with independent workers for short-term engagements e.g. freelancers, independent contractors, project-based workers and temporary or part-time hires.
Make sure to exercise your right to vote on 12th December