Making Flexible Work the Default: A Call to Action on Equal Pay Day 2023

Introduction: On this Equal Pay Day, marked annually on 22nd November, the Fawcett Society releases new data and a report urging a transformative shift in workplace dynamics. The focus is clear – making flexible work the default in high-quality, high-paid jobs. This bold proposition aims to accelerate the closing of the gender pay gap, a pervasive issue that, at the current rate, won’t be resolved until 2051.

The Gender Pay Gap Reality: As of 2023, the gender pay gap in the UK remains a significant concern. On average, women are paid £574 less than men each month, leading to a yearly deficit of £6888. More disheartening is the projection that women aged 40 and older won’t witness the closure of this pay gap before reaching State Pension age. This status quo is unsustainable and calls for immediate action.

Flexible Work: A Game-Changer: The Fawcett Society’s latest findings reveal a critical link between flexible work and the gender pay gap. Notably, women predominantly access flexible work associated with lower-paid, lower-quality positions, such as part-time, insecure, or zero-hours contracts. This compromises their earning potential and contributes to the persistent pay gap.

Key insights from the report include:

  • 40% of non-working women believe access to flexible work would enable them to take on more paid work.
  • Women are significantly more likely to work part-time (27%) compared to men (14%).
  • Men have greater access to desirable forms of flexible work.

Jemima Olchawski’s Call to Action: Jemima Olchawski, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, emphasises the urgency of making flexible work the default. She contends that women should not be forced into lower-quality jobs due to the need for flexibility. Olchawski asserts that a day-one right to request flexible working is insufficient, advocating for a cultural shift where flexible work becomes the norm for both men and women.

Harriet Harman Urges Urgent Action: Chair of the Fawcett Society, Harriet Harman, emphasises the slow pace of closing the gender pay gap, especially for women over 40. She asserts that making flexibility the norm is crucial for unlocking women’s full potential, normalising men’s involvement in caring responsibilities, and ultimately contributing to a thriving economy.

Understanding the Gender Pay Gap: The gender pay gap, representing the disparity between the hourly pay of women and men, currently stands at 10.7% for full-time workers. The Fawcett Society provides a comprehensive gender pay gap explainer, covering its evolution over time, causes, and calls to action for its permanent closure.

Call to Action: As Equal Pay Day 2023 unfolds; the Fawcett Society encourages collective action to close both the gender and ethnicity pay gaps for good. Individuals can use the Equal Pay Day 2023 toolkit to amplify the message on social media, become Fawcett members, and actively participate in campaigns to reshape workplaces ahead of the 2024 General Election.

The time for change is now – flexible work must become the default for everyone, fostering a fair and equal future for all, regardless of gender or ethnicity.

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