Gender inequality in the workplace is an important topic that companies need to work on when looking for their business growth. Despite the common belief that in modern times, women are given equal opportunities in the workplace, men continue to land the most high-paying jobs. Read on to learn what the gender gap is and how companies can achieve gender equality in the workplace.

Contents

Gender equality in the workplace definition

The current gender equality in the workplace in the UK

Why is gender equality in the workplace important?

Gender equality in the workplace laws

How to promote gender equality at work?

FAQs

Gender equality in the workplace definition

Resource – https://www.indeed.com/hire/c/info/gender-inequality-in-the-workplace

Gender equality in the workplace exists when everyone, irrespective of gender, can uniformly gain access to and benefit from resources, opportunities, and benefits to flourish and succeed at all levels.

In order to be successful, any business needs to consider gender equality in the workplace. To take a step in the right direction, companies must strive to make their workplace equal, comprehensive, and diverse. A company’s management can help close the gender gap by having fair hiring, reimbursement, appraisal, and promotion policies, irrespective of gender.

The current gender equality in the workplace in the UK

Resource – https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/socialbusinesshub/2021/11/15/why-we-should-still-be-concerned-about-gender-inequality-in-the-uk/#:~:text=Women%20are%20less%20likely%20to,members%20of%20parliament%20are%20women

Although just like in the other countries of the world, gender equality in the workplace in the UK is slowly closing, the UK still has a long way to go. There are still many inequalities and differences that women face at work. Gender equality in the workplace statistics in the UK shows that men are more likely to be employed full-time than men, and the gender pay gap in the UK stands at 17.3%. Regarding the Gender Equality Index, the UK ranked 6th in the EU in 2017. It is believed that with the current rate of progress, it will take 100 years to achieve complete Gender Equality in the UK. Gender inequality can be witnessed all around us, with less than a third of the members of parliament being women and only 35% being in top leadership positions. The UK, just like the rest of the world, still has a lot of work to do to achieve gender equality at work.

Why is gender equality in the workplace important?

Resourcehttps://www.wgea.gov.au/about/workplace-gender-equality#:~:text=Achieving%20gender%20equality%20is%20important,national%20productivity%20and%20economic%20growth

Gender equality at work is essential because it is the right thing to do and will enhance the company’s reputation. However, it is also linked to a country’s general economic performance. As more and more women join the workforce, they raise wages and the nation’s GDP.

Companies that encourage women to join them gain a wider talent pool where they can use the talents and abilities of more people. An encouraging, bias-free, and understanding gender-equal workplace results in an innovative attitude. Having both genders in your company gives you different perspectives, which come with varying experiences in life. It allows your company to profit from ideas that come from different perspectives. Moreover, having women on teams can improve team activities and promote collaboration. It is believed that women have more vital skills in reading non-verbal signs.

Customers like dealing with someone they can relate to; having a diversity of genders, backgrounds and ethnicities mean that customers would be able to communicate with them much more effectively, which will also result in customer satisfaction. To be successful, a company must adopt a flexible work culture that encourages mothers to join or rejoin the workforce. An organisation with flexible work, fair pay, and diversity results in a better quality of life for all genders. This means a good work-life balance can be achieved where both genders can spend quality time with their families.

In the end, if your staff feels that they are fairly treated in your organisation, paid equally for equal work done irrespective of their gender, and think that you are trying hard to provide an equal working environment to all, they will be happier. This employee satisfaction will mean that the employees will work hard, and the retention rate will improve.

Gender equality in the workplace laws

Resource – https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/fundamentals/emp-law/sex-discrimination/factsheet#gref

Gender discrimination has been illegal in the UK for many years, but the Equality Act 2010 law was incorporated only recently. The law protects against direct and indirect discrimination, harassment, and victimisation in the workplace. It also includes a ban on age discrimination against adults in the workplace. There are laws against pay gaps, maternity discrimination, harassment at work, and much more; however, even after this, we have a long way to go. Unfortunately, not many companies can boast of total gender equality even after all the steps taken by the organisations.

How to promote gender equality at work?

Resource – https://www.invensislearning.com/blog/workplace-gender-equality/

Promoting gender equality in the workplace lies on the shoulders of the management. Companies must strive hard to close the gender gap and make their workplaces inclusive. The below-mentioned tips can help employers in promoting gender equality at work.

Focus on diversity during your recruitment process.

The first step towards gender equality is to modify the job descriptions to promote gender equality. While preparing the job description, make sure that the description does not focus on segregating candidates based on gender, ethnicity, etc. Also, ensure that the language is free of prejudiced ideas or stereotypes. The interviews should also be fair and free of bias, giving all candidates equal opportunities.

Remove the gender pay gap

In every organisation, each employee must be paid equal wages for equal work, irrespective of gender. Employers can support gender equality by being transparent about salaries to ensure women are not being paid less than men in equivalent roles. A compensation program must be developed that would be fair, justifiable, and transparent. Even when it comes to promotions, everybody should be given equal opportunities, and organisations should not shy from promoting women to top leadership roles.

Work-life balance should be a priority

Organisations should incorporate part-time and flexible working in various job roles. In general, women share a huge chunk of responsibilities at home, especially after they become mothers. Childcare support and paternal leaves will ensure that child’s responsibility is shared, and women do not have to leave their jobs to raise the kids.

Strict and Effective Policies

Organisations must have a strict policy against workplace harassment of all kinds. Employers must make appropriate policies to protect women, and if any case of harassment comes to light, organisations should take appropriate measures to punish the guilty. A vigilant approach by the management will make the women feel safe and secure at their workplace. There is a need to change the company’s culture so that all employees learn to treat each other equally.

FAQs

Which country is the best for gender equality?

The Netherlands is the best country when it comes to gender equality.

How much is the gender pay gap in the UK?

According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), pay for full-time employees was 7.9% less for women than for men in April 2021.

Is gender equality a concern for men?

Yes, gender equality is also a concern for men because, in the absence of gender equality, unrealistic expectations are put on men where they are expected to be leaders irrespective of their personalities or interests.

What are the barriers to gender equality in the workplace?

Some barriers to gender equality in the workplace are – gender stereotypes, workplace culture, societal expectations, and much more.

What are the challenges that women face in their workplace?

Some challenges women face in their workplace are – unequal pay, sexual harassment, less promotion to top roles, etc.

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Things can get tricky for some people after retirement when they do not have a source of earnings. And a pension in the workplace is a savings scheme to help employees enjoy the later years of their life without compromising their standard of living. Read on to learn about workplace pensions, their benefits, eligibility, and more.

Contents

What is a workplace pension?

How does a workplace pension work?

What are different workplace pensions?

Who is entitled to a workplace pension?

What is pension tax relief?

Changing jobs and workplace pensions

Workplace pension vs private pension

FAQ

What is a workplace pension?

Resource

https://www.nerdwallet.com/uk/pensions/workplace-pensions-explained/

A pension is a form of saving you can use when you retire and do not have an earning source. The employer arranges workplace pensions, and a workplace pension law requires most employers to automatically enroll their workers into workplace pension schemes to ensure workers get a pension in the workplace.

How does a workplace pension work?

Resource

https://www.standardlife.co.uk/pensions/guides/what-is-workplace-pension

A pension in the workplace scheme works by deducting a percentage of your pay as contributions directly from your wages. When you join a new company, you will be informed about the percentage of your salary that will be contributed to your workplace pension. In most cases, your employer will also add money for pension for workers. In some workplace pension schemes, the government also makes payments.

What are different workplace pensions?

Resource

https://www.pensionbee.com/pensions-explained/pension-types/what-is-a-workplace-pension

The two main types of pensions for workers are

  • Defined contribution pensions or money purchase schemes
  • Defined benefit pensions or final salary pensions

Defined contribution pensions

A defined contribution pension is a workplace pension like a tax-friendly savings account. This scheme pays you a retirement income based on the amount you have contributed to the pension. The money in your pension in the workplace is invested into funds, and the amount you receive

pension plan on retirement will depend on the performance of this fund. The employer and the employee get tax relief on the contributions made in this pension scheme at the workplace. When setting a workplace pension for workers, the employer can choose from an individual trust pension scheme, a master trust pension scheme, a group personal pension, and many others. You can typically take money from this pension scheme from age 55.

Defined benefit pensions

Although very rare nowadays, a defined benefit pension is a workplace pension given mainly by big or public sector companies. This pension is linked to your salary, so it increases as your working salary increases. The pension scheme is a workplace pension that pays you a retirement income based on your salary and the years you have worked for the company.

Who is entitled to a workplace pension?

Resource

https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/pensions/workplace-pensions/

Regarding workplace pension rules in the UK, all employers must provide a workplace pension scheme and enroll their employees into their pension scheme automatically. An employee aged between 22 and State Pension age, earns at least £10,000 per year and who works in the UK is eligible for a pension for workers.

In most cases, your employer does not have to automatically enroll you if you do not meet the criteria mentioned above. One can opt out of the workplace pensions if they want to after informing their employer. However, if money is not an issue, it is an excellent decision to contribute to a workplace pension scheme, as it will be beneficial in the future.

What is pension tax relief?

Resource

https://www.hsbc.co.uk/retirement/what-is-a-workplace-pension/

Some pension schemes allow the money that you would normally pay to the government to go towards your pension instead, which is known as pension tax relief. Thus, a good pension scheme allows the employee and employer to reduce the tax they pay to the government as the idea is to not be taxed on money paid into your pension. However, there is a limit on the tax relief one can get on the contributions made to the pension scheme, therefore, you should decide on your contribution only after discussing it with HR.

One must make a minimum of 8% contribution towards their pension fund out of which 5% is deducted from the salary and 3% is made up of your employer’s contributions and tax relief.

Changing jobs and workplace pensions

Resource

https://www.gov.uk/workplace-pensions/changing-jobs-and-taking-leave

Whether you change jobs or stop contributing money to your pension funds, the money still belongs to you, and you get it when you reach the scheme’s pension age. When you change jobs, you can join the pension scheme of your new employer or join the two schemes (this is not possible in all the schemes). This is because there is no limit to the amount you can put in your pension schemes.

If you are getting paid during your maternity leave or any other leave, you and your employer will continue to make pension contributions.

In case of the passing of the employee while still in service, the pension funds get passed to their beneficiaries. You should constantly update your pension scheme documents, so your pension pot is inherited by someone you want in the event of your death.

Workplace pension vs. Private pension

Resource

https://www.wealthify.com/blog/private-pension-vs-workplace-pension

Private pensions are like workplace pensions; however, instead of being set up by your employer like a workplace pension, they are set up by you.

FAQ

Are workplace pensions worth it?

Like any other saving scheme, workplace pensions are beneficial for most people as they help people enjoy their retirement without worry. The good part about pension for workers is that it is not only you who contributes to your pension pot, but your employer also contributes, and you also get the tax benefits. So, if you have money, you should contribute to your workplace pensions.

Is workplace pension compulsory?

The UK law requires all employers to provide a workplace pension scheme to the workers. However, an employee can choose to opt out of this scheme.

How much workplace pension will I get?

The workplace pension you will get will depend on the contributions you and your employers have made and the performance of your investments.

How much workplace pension do I pay?

In most cases, the contribution in the pension pit is 8%, where the employer puts around 3%, and the employee puts 5%.

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Most UK workers are entitled to 28 days annual holiday, which includes bank holidays. However, in regular times only a proportion of this can be carried over to the following year. Thus, in most situations, it is a case of “use it or lose it”; if you fail to take your annual holiday, then it is your loss, and you are not entitled to financial compensation.

Brexit and COVID-19 have both impacted these rules. For instance, employees who have failed to take all their statutory leave because of COVID-19 can now carry it over for the following two leave years. However, a previous ruling by the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) placed additional requirements on employers to provide workers with accurate information on their outstanding leave, encouraging them to take it in the current year. Employers face financial penalties if they fail to do so. These requirements could change post-Brexit.

Here we look at the implications of these measures and how they emphasise the importance of deploying a leave management system and employee leave planner that provides accurate, up-to-date information on outstanding leave.

Statutory leave entitlement

UK law stipulates that full-time workers are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday a year. Part-time workers receive a pro-rata entitlement. Four weeks of this leave relates to EU law, with the additional 1.6 weeks being a UK entitlement. Only under exceptional circumstances are UK employers obliged to allow workers to carry the four weeks forward.

Ruling by the CJEU

In a landmark ruling, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) examined the legality of German employment laws. Under those laws, workers were entitled to financial compensation for untaken leave only if they had been prevented from taking leave after having previously requested it. The CJEU ruled that employers must not discourage workers from taking their due leave and must also:

· Update workers on their outstanding leave

· Provide accurate information regarding their lack of entitlement or otherwise to carry that leave forward in good time for them to take leave in the current year

· Inform them of when their entitlement to leave ends

· Encourage workers to take their annual leave.

By failing to comply with these rules, employers would lose the right to prevent workers from either carrying leave forward or claiming pay in lieu of untaken leave. This ruling applied across the EU, which at the time included the UK.

The impact of Brexit

Before Brexit, the CJEU ruling meant that any UK employers who fail to comply with these rules could not continue to prevent workers from carrying leave over. Furthermore, employers must take positive action to encourage workers to take their leave allowance. For instance, they could write to workers to inform them of outstanding leave, encouraging them to take it, and investigate why workers might have failed to take their due leave. For instance, if this was the result of pressure from their line managers.

Now that the UK has withdrawn from the CJEU, how will this impact annual leave regulations? It is improbable that any government would depart from all European Directives on worker rights. But there is likely to be a degree of divergence eventually.

Apart from the rules relating to carrying over leave, EU law states that workers on maternity or long-term sick leave can carry over their annual leave to the following year. Additionally holiday pay should include overtime payments and commission. Both of these would appear unpopular amongst employers. It was mooted that the government was considering repealing the inclusion of overtime in holiday pay and the requirement to record and report on workers’ hours. However, business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng confirmed to parliament that there are no government plans to reduce worker’s rights. For the time being, and until the impact of COVID-19 is behind us, any review of employment rights is on hold.

COVID-19 rules on carrying annual leave forward

As we have stated, workers who have not taken all of their statutory annual leave because of COVID-19 can now carry it over into the following two leave years. While the motivation behind this measure is to ensure that staff can work on the national fight against COVID-19 without losing their holiday entitlement, it also relieves pressure on employers to ensure workers take their leave during the year in which it’s due.

However, this easing of regulations comes with several caveats. The new regulations apply only to workers for whom it is “not reasonable” to take leave because of COVID-19, and this is open to interpretation as many factors are involved.

It would appear that the bottom line is that employers should continue to encourage workers to take annual leave when it is due and that workers should continue to request leave throughout the holiday year. When leave is carried forward, it should be taken at the earliest opportunity.

Finally

These measures and interpretations underline the need to maintain up-to-date, accurate information on outstanding leave. All stakeholders, including employees and HR, must have ready access to this information, especially when working remotely. For instance, this could be provided via an online staff leave planner. Ideally, employees should be informed automatically about their remaining leave allowance so that they can take appropriate action in good time and not miss out on their entitlements.

After years of tumult and uncertainty the Brexit transition phase ends on 31 December 2020, completing Britain’s process of leaving the European Union, so what will January 2021 bring for your business? Here are a few things to look out for.

Most things will be the same for now.

The end of the transition period means that the UK will no longer be bound to follow common EU policies and directives when it comes to regulations on businesses. This means that some of the rules that businesses in the UK are used to could potentially change. In the vast majority of cases though, there will be no immediate changes on 1 January 2021.

This is because the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018 translated all EU regulations into UK law. The effect of this law is that if something is required, banned, or allowed by an EU regulation now, it will be required, banned, or allowed by a UK law from the 1stof January. This gives a degree of consistency to your business, at least in the short term, although the UK government will be able to change the rules using UK legislation in the future.

Working time and annual leave rules will not be based on the Working Time Directive.

Here at LeaveWizard, of course, we like to keep a keen eye on the laws surrounding annual leave, absence management, and working time. This is one of those areas we talked about in the first point, where nothing will change immediately. The major change to annual leave rules will be that they are no longer based on the European Working Time Directive (WTD), but instead directly based on British law.

This will, in fact, make very little difference to how annual leave works in the UK. The WTD provides a baseline of entitlements that every EU member state must guarantee to employees, but each country is free to offer more rights than this, and most, including the UK do. Leaving the EU does mean that the UK will be free to move below these minimums should Parliament decide to do so, but it seems unlikely that any party will see a political advantage in removing holiday entitlement from workers.

One thing that you can rely on is that we will always keep a watching eye on any changes to the rules. If there are any changes to annual leave regulations we will make sure that any changes are applied in the LeaveWizard platform so that you stay seamlessly up to date. We’ll also make sure to keep you up-to-date with any developments on this blog.

Entitlement to work.

One area of HR for UK businesses will see a definite change in 2021, and that is the rules around the entitlement of EU citizens to work in the UK, and UK citizens to work in Europe. As an EU member state, the EU granted all EU citizens the right to live and work in the UK, and UK workers received the same benefit in the EU. This arrangement continued through the transition period but will end on 31 December 2020.

If you are employing EU citizens in the UK then the government has announced that from 30th June 2021 you will need to check that any new employees who are EU citizens have the right to work, in the same way as you must for non-EU citizens. This will include the new Settled Status for those that have been living in the UK prior to Brexit. You don’t have to carry out checks on existing employees. If you have British employees working at your sites in EU countries, they will also lose the automatic right to work there, and you will need to make sure you follow the host country’s rules. UK and Irish citizens will carry on having the right to work in each other’s countries because of a common travel area from before either country joined the EU.

Stay in control.

In a period of change, it’s important the know that you are always following the rules. LeaveWizard offers a one-stop online leave and absence management platform that incorporates country-specific regulations to keep your business compliant.

See for yourself how seamless leave management works by booking your free online demo here.

#annualleave #Brexit #futureproofing #Legal

COVID-19 has led to Important changes to the rules on the carryover of annual leave. Here’s what you need to know.

Over the past few weeks, the response to the global coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the face of business in the UK and many other countries. Offices have emptied out as employees work from home, while almost all leisure and retail businesses have had to close their doors and furlough their staff.

A changing landscape

The rules for the lockdown have been laid out in a series of regulations published by government ministers. The most notable and widely talked about are the rules published by the Health Secretary in March, which forced almost all retail businesses to close their shops, and ordered everyone to stay at home except for certain specific reasons.

There have, though, been other regulations issued by other government departments, including one that is of note if you manage annual leave for your business or organisation. This temporary rule change affects the ability of employees to carry over leave from one holiday year to the next, which we wrote about recently on this blog.

What’s changed?

Under the new rules, officially called the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, employees can now carry over 4 weeks of their leave allowance, rather than the usual 2 weeks. This applies for the next two years.

The idea of the rule change is to make sure that employers aren’t faced with a situation, after the lockdown ends, where all of their teams have huge amounts of leave to take in a short period of time, and that employees don’t lose out on holiday they are entitled to because of the pandemic.

How does this affect my organization?

The ability to carry over leave is available to all UK employers, but it doesn’t mean that you should just automatically do that. Your approach to annual leave will depend on the position your company is currently in. Broadly speaking, employees in the UK are in one of three positions, furloughed, working from home, or working in a role that is essential, how you handle leave requests will differ across these groups.

Furloughed staff

If your staff are furloughed under the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), they are still entitled to apply for annual leave. If you approve an employee’s holiday during the furlough period you must make sure that they receive their full pay (and at least the National Minimum wage) for the holiday period, rather than the 80% of usual pay provided by the CJRS grant.

You are also allowed to assign holiday, as you might in normal times, but you should remember that employees might resent being told that they are on holiday when they can’t go away, and the effect this could have on workplace morale. Any leave not taken by the end of the holiday year, up to four weeks, can be carried over to the next year.

Working from home

Staff working from home are allowed to apply for and take holiday in the same way as if they were working from the office. While many may not want to take a lot of time off, since they can’t go away, it is still worth encouraging them to do so. If workers take a day or two off from working at home to play with their kids, binge-watch Tiger King, or relax in the garden, it will help them to be more focused and productive when they are working. As with furloughed staff, they can carry over unused leave under the new regulation.

Essential workers

If you are providing essential services, from food retail to healthcare and a host of others, then you may not be able to let staff take holiday during the crisis. Increased demand or importance of your service, alongside higher rates of absence for sickness or childcare needs, might make this an “all hands to the pumps” moment. The new rules allowing staff to carry over 4 weeks of leave to the next holiday year mean that there is no longer a danger that these firms emerge from lockdown with large numbers of staff needing to take holiday in a short period of time.

LeaveWizard users can find help and advice on setting up the platform for carrying over leave in our Knowledge Base. If you’re not currently a LeaveWizard customer, you can find out how our purpose-built online annual leave management tool helps manage all aspects of staff holiday by booking a free online demo here.

#annualleave #Legal #entitlement #coronavirus #carryover