From not much progress on flexi job ads to sexual harassment problems at work

This week’s HR news round-up covers everything from Timewise’s annual report on job ads that mention flexible working to concerns about sexual harassment at work.

frictionless flexibility


Little progress on flexible job ads

The rate of job vacancies being posted with the promise of flexible working, has slowed down to pre-pandemic levels, according to Timewise’s annual Flexible Jobs Index.

It analyses nearly 6m UK job ads to see what portion are being offered with part-time and flexible options.

It found just 31% of UK jobs now offer a flexible option when advertised – a 1% increase on last year. This compares to a 9% rise in 2021 and a 4% rise in 2022.

Timewise says 69 per cent make no mention of flex options at all. This compares with the six in 10 UK employees who currently work in flexible jobs and the  87 per cent of people want flex in their next role.

Read more here.

Childcare experts ‘extremely concerned’ about funding rates

The Government’s childcare funding announcement has left providers with an average increase of just 32p per hour for three and four year olds, according to analysis by the National Day Nurseries Association.

The Government announced the hourly funding rates in September, saying this would support its childcare expansion plans from April 2024.

The NDNA says that the average hourly rate has increased from £4.85 to £5.17 and that, in some council areas, the proportion of funding they pay directly to providers as a base rate has gone down instead of up.

The increase for two year olds was an extra £2.02 per hour, although currently only those in the most deprived areas can access this.

Meanwhile, a BBC analysis estimates demand for childcare in England is likely to rise by about 15% as a result of the Government’s childcare expansion plans, although it points out that many providers are likely to be unable to meet it due to funding and staffing problems.

Research by Dingley’s Promise also found one in five families with children needing SEND in early years face are being turned away from a provision setting due to their child’s needs.

12 actions that can help working parents

A new report  has revealed the 12 evidence-based actions that will benefit and drive equal opportunities for working parents.

Published by WOMBA (Work, Me and the Baby) in partnership with Hult International Business School (Ashridge), the report specifically highlights the need for collaboration between people leads, boards and the government.

The 12 priority actions to drive change for working parents:

Priority actions for the board

  • Take ownership for leading the working parents’ agenda
  • Enhance and equalise parental leave
  • Encourage a culture of openness and trust
  • Listen to the voices of working parents

Priority actions for people leads

  • Introduce structured hybrid working
  • Develop a flexible working culture
  • Provide specialist support for working parents
  • Tailor, flex and promote policies
  • Provide line managers with additional support and training

Priority actions for government

  • Reform parental leave
  • Evolve social policies to make parenting more gender neutral
  • Reform childcare provision

The research with people leads highlighted that whilst the government is responsible for some of the barriers – such as childcare and its respective costs – many barriers are within organisations’ control. For instance, in the research it was reported that complex policies, inflexible working models, ill-equipped line managers, outdated mindsets and gender stereotypes all stand in the way of change.

Read more here.

Call for more awareness of menstrual health at work

More than two thirds (69%) of women have a negative experience at work because of their menstruation symptoms, according to the latest findings from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Menstruation and support at work report.

The survey of over 2,000 women found the most common symptoms reported include abdominal cramps (60%), irritability (52%), fatigue (49%) and bloating (49%), but there are a wide range of symptoms experienced. Of those who experienced symptoms, four-fifths (61%) said they had worked when they didn’t feel well enough to, and one in five (20%) took sick leave.

The CIPD is calling on organisations to create awareness, tackle the stigma associated with menstruation and train managers to be confident, comfortable and inclusive when talking to employees about menstrual health.

ONS stats show economic slowdown

Employment fell slightly while unemployment and economic inactivity flatlined in the last quarter, according to the latest Office for National Statistics figures.

They show that the figures for July to September show the employment rate decreased by 0.1% compared to th previous quarter and now stands at 75.7%.

Tony Wilson, Director at the Institute for Employment Studies said: “The labour market is continuing to cool, with vacancies now down by a quarter of a million over the last year and by sixty thousand in the most recent quarter. The latest payroll data also suggest that employment for young people is falling, by around 30,000 in the last quarter, and in industries more sensitive to a slowdown like hospitality and construction. So far, this slowdown isn’t feeding through into significantly higher unemployment, with many people still outside the labour force entirely and continued shortages in some parts of the economy helping to keep pay growth at close to 8%.”

He added that there is “a clear need to do more to try to boost employment and support growth”.

Disability pay gap highlighted

Non-disabled workers earn around a sixth (14.6%) more than disabled workers, according to a TUC survey.

The analysis reveals that the pay gap for disabled workers across the board is £1.90 an hour, or £66.50 per week – over what the average household spends on their weekly food shop (£62.20).

That makes for a pay difference of £3,460 a year for someone working a 35-hour week.

The pay gap has fallen since last year, when the overall pay gap was £2.05 (17.2%) an hour, but it is now higher than it was a decade ago (13.2% in 2013/14) when the first comparable pay data was recorded.

Meanwhile, Alan Milburn, chairman of the Social Mobility Foundation, has called for government action to mandate the reporting of socioeconomic background data to address the issue its survey showed working-class professionals are paid over £6,000 less than their peers in the same occupation.

Carrot and stick: new support launched to get the sick back to work plus stricter sanctions

The Government is today launching its new WorkWell service which it says will support around 60,000 long-term sick or disabled people to start, stay and succeed in work as part of its £2.5 billion Back to Work Plan.

The service, announced in the Budget, will be rolled out in around 15 areas and aims to support people at risk of falling into long-term unemployment due to sickness or disability, through integrated work and health support.

The Government has also announced additional investment in four programmes to help those with mental or physical health conditions get back to work:

  • NHS Talking Therapies [generally CBT-based therapy for mild to moderate mental health issues such as anxiety and depression]
  • Individual Placement and Support [aimed at getting people with severe mental health issues back to work through community-based approaches]
  • Universal Support [which offers up to 12 months of personalised ‘place and train’ support to people with disabilities and health conditions].
  • the Restart scheme [which will be expanded and extended by two years, meaning tailored, intensive support will be offered to anyone who has been on Universal Credit for more than six months. Previously it was offered to those on UC for more than nine months].

The Government has previously stated that participation in the programmes is voluntary.

In addition to the support, the Government is increasing sanctions for the long-term unemployed. Universal Credit claimants who are still unemployed after the 12-month Restart programme will have to take part in a claimant review point: a new process whereby a work coach will decide what further work search conditions or employment pathways would best support a claimant into work. If a claimant refuses to accept these new conditions without good reason, their Universal Credit claim will be closed. Moreover,  they will be required to accept a job or to undertake time-limited work experience or other intensive activity to improve their employability prospects. If they don’t they will be sanctioned.

In addition the Government will close the benefits claims of individuals on an open-ended sanction for over six months and solely eligible for the Universal Credit standard allowance, ending their access to additional benefits such as free prescriptions and legal aid.

The Government says that, as a result of the reforms, “no claimant should reach 18 months of unemployment in receipt of their full benefits if they have not taken every reasonable step to comply with Jobcentre support”.

Ministers are also planning to trial reforms to the fit note process which they say will make it easier and quicker for people to get specialised work and health support.

Read more here.

McDonald’s sees sex abuse claims every week

Alistair Macrow, the UK chief executive of McDonald’s, told a parliamentary select committee that the fast-food chain is receiving between one or two sexual harassment claims a week.

Macrow told MPs on the Business and Trade Select Committee that it had received 407 complaints from workers since July. He said 157 reports have already been fully investigated, with 75 resulting in disciplinary action and 18 people sacked. This comes after a BBC investigation saw a number of staff say they had experienced a toxic workplace culture at McDonald’s, with it alleged that claims of sexual assault, racism and bullying were not taken seriously.

Meanwhile, an employment tribunal has ruled that two Pizza Hut workers were sacked for speaking up about being sexually harassed.

Your Franchise Selection

Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

Your Franchise Selection

This franchise opportunity has been added to your franchise selection



Click the button below to register your interest with all the franchises in your selection

Request FREE Information Now

You may be interested in these similar franchises