HR news round-up: From homeworking tribunals to how to retain older women

This week’s HR round-up covers everything from the launch of’s annual survey and rising tribunals linked to remote and hybrid working to what older women want from work. launches its annual survey has launched its long-running annual survey with a focus on how the changing economic climate is impacting working parents.

The survey includes a section, for instance, on parents who are doing more than one job, exploring the motivation for this and the impact of it.

It also covers flexible working, for example, whether parents have been forced to do more days in the office over the last year and what impact that has had, whether they are getting support if they work remotely and whether flexible working has been withdrawn or changed and the impact that has had on their working lives.

The survey also covers parents’ attitudes to and experiences of the extension of ‘free’ childcare, self employment experiences, attitudes to jobseeking in an uncertain jobs market, retraining, mental health [both parents’ own mental health and that of their children] – including bullying at work, debt, parental leave experiences and whether parents have noticed a backlash against equality, diversity and inclusion in the past year.

The annual survey runs over the next couple of months and the results will be published in September and will be discussed at an online event on 1st October [12-1pm] with working families expert Sarah Jackson OBE, Visiting Professor at Senior Associate Chair of  and Nadia Nagamootoo, best-selling author, Chartered Psychologist, accredited coach and Founder of DEI consultancy Avenir.

In the run-up to the launch, published reports based on its last survey, looking at the impact of various work policies on people with disabilities and on mums from minority backgrounds.

Tribunal cases expected to increase as UK employers push back on remote working

Lawyers and HR experts are predicting a surge in employment tribunal cases as companies scale back remote working arrangements.

The number of employment tribunals mentioning remote working increased by 50% in 2022 compared to the previous year, data from HR consultancy Hamilton Nash shows. “I would expect more tribunal cases on working from home,” said Jim Moore, an employee relations expert at Hamilton Nash. “We’re seeing significant tensions between flexible working requests from people keen to secure their hybrid arrangements and employers pushing people back into the office.”

The Guardian says that lawyers say some employers have become emboldened after an employment tribunal earlier this year rejected the case of a senior manager who sued the City watchdog because she wanted to work at home full-time. Elizabeth Wilson, a senior manager at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), had her demand quashed by a judge, who said the regulator was within its rights to deny the request. Richard Fox, a partner at Keystone Law, said the FCA case was significant and closely watched.

However, other lawyers are not so sure that particular case will make a huge difference. Charlotte Geesin from Howarths says the FCA case is extreme given Wilson was a senior manager working to work full time from home. However, she agrees that we are likely to see reference to “home working” increasing in the context of tribunals, but she says this will only be as an extension of existing flexible working rules. She adds: “It remains to be seen how things pan out, but I think the legal landscape will be supportive of hybrid working arrangements as a concept where business needs can be balanced.”

She adds: “The vast majority of businesses genuinely appear to be embracing the concept of hybrid working and most employers are moving towards this…I think that most businesses recognise that hybrid working is almost a “norm” now and there are definite benefits when it comes to recruitment if employers have this approach in place.”

Employees rate employers who provide childcare support

Nine out of 10 parents who have access to employer-subsidised childcare say it made it easier for them to return to work after birth or adoption, according to a new report.

The report, based on a survey of over 1,800 working parents who have access to Bright Horizons’ family support solutions through their employers, including sponsored nursery and back-up care, compares with an earlier survey of 3,000 working parents who don’t have access to family supports through their employer, shows those with access to employer-sponsored care rate their employer 20 percentage points more supportive of family. 85% said employer-sponsored childcare helps them attend a place of work and four in five say the care enhances their productivity.

The report also found that 53% of parents have seen their hours at the office increase in the past year with 65% now working more than half of their time in a central workplace. 76% of those with increased office working said they had upped their childcare as a result.

Read more here.

Gender pay gap falls, but not by much

The overall UK gender pay gap has fallen 0.4% for companies with over 250 employees in the past year, according to PwC analysis.

It says the gap [which measures the gap between all women and men’s earnings in an organisation and not the gap between men and women doing the same job] has fallen from 12.2% in 2022/23 to 11.8% in 2023/24. The analysis also shows the median hourly pay gap has decreased marginally from 9.2% in 2022/23 to 9.1% in 2023/24.

Since the introduction of mandatory UK gender pay gap reporting in 2017 for companies with over 250 employees, the mean gender pay gap has only fallen by 1.6% from 13.4% in 2017.  PwC says the analysis suggests it will take over 45 years to close the gender pay gap in the UK.

Its analysis shows that of the companies that have disclosed their pay gaps for both 2023/24 and 2022/23, almost 60% reported that their pay gap had decreased compared with the previous year.  However, the majority of these reductions were less than 2%. This is a slight increase in comparison to 2022/23, where 53.7% of organisations reported decreases to their mean pay gap.

Overall, 20.1% of organisations reported no change or an increase between 0% and 2% to their pay gap, compared with 17.6% in 2022/23.

Read more here.

Childcare deserts more likely in disadvantaged areas

Statistics released by the Office for National Statistics show that areas with lower levels of access to childcare were generally more likely to have lower disposable household incomes, on average, and a higher proportion of children living in poverty.

The ONS says affluent areas like St Albans and Cambridge have the highest levels of childcare access whereas areas such as Walsall, Great Yarmouth, Sunderland and Torridge in Devon have the lowest.

Purnima Tanuku, Chief Executive of National Day Nurseries Association (NDNA), echoes that, saying “these statistics paint a troubling picture that echoes the concerns we have been sharing about funded places. They show that those children from disadvantaged backgrounds, who have the most to gain from high quality early education and care, tend to be the least likely to have access to those places”.

NDNA’s research has found that nurseries are most likely to close in areas of deprivation because there tends to be a larger proportion of government-funded hours compared to parent-paid hours in childcare settings. Currently 83% of nurseries make a loss on funded places and so a greater reliance on funded places puts them at greater risk, says the NDNA. They are calling for the Government to bring the early years pupil premium in line with the rates paid at primary school.

Over 40s lack knowledge of how pensions work

The majority of UK adults aged 40 and above do not know what the pension triple lock is while just over half think that the UK’s pension system is too complicated, according to new research by My Pension Expert.

Its survey of 1,295 UK adults aged 40 and above found that when presented with four definitions of the triple lock, only 35% identified the correct one (that the state pension would increase by the annual rate of inflation, average annual UK wage growth, or 2.5%, whichever figure is largest).

Almost two in five (39%) selected the incorrect definition of the three factors that make up the triple lock, while over a quarter (26%) of those surveyed said they were not sure what the triple lock is.

My Pension Expert’s research also showed that half of over 40s do not think that the UK government provides sufficient education and support to help people understand pension policy.

Three in five (62%) over-40s said that they find pension planning daunting, and 69% feel the government needs to do more to improve people’s access to financial guidance and advice.

Read more here.

What makes older women stay in work?

Employers with female-dominated workforces such as healthcare and education could take measures to maximise retention of older workers through providing secure, satisfying jobs where women feel appreciated, as well as regular appraisal of job demands, according to a new study.

The study, published in the journal Occupational Medicine, is based on 4,436 women aged 50 to 64 who were tracked annually from 2013 to just before the pandemic. 64% were working. It builds on previous research showing increasing numbers of women aged 50+ are in the labour force, with women being more likely than men to work part time and in insecure, less well-remunerated jobs. Research also shows that it is unclear whether working to older ages will have health benefits for older women, or increase health risks.

The new study found two-thirds of women aged 50+ years in its survey sample worked at some point and that the nature of jobs in which older women are working appear to be different by five-year cohort, with younger women doing more professional, managerial and technical jobs, and less administrative and retail jobs.

It finds predictors of job exit among older women are age, perceived difficulty coping with mental demands of work and perceived financial security. Leg pain [such as hip pain] and poor self-rated health are also important health risk factors for job exit. Moreover, working conditions (security, work demands, appreciation and satisfaction) are also important to retain older women working.

Read more here.

Seoul government to incentivise companies for supporting employee childbirth and childcare

The Seoul Metropolitan Government has announced that it will provide incentives to SMEs that support employee childbirth and childcare.

The city government will implement a system where companies can accumulate points by providing support. These points can be converted into benefits such as internship support to fill in for employees on parental leave. The measures aim to address the disparity in parental leave usage based on company size. Companies that create policies supporting work-life balance and childcare are eligible to receive points.

The city government will give 50 points to companies that attend a consulting session about the scheme. The planned incentives may be amended and further developed after discussions with the central government. “Achieving a work-life balance and creating an environment supportive toward childbirth and childcare in small- and medium-sized enterprises, where the majority of young people work, are key to overcoming low birthrates,” said Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon. South Korea has long suffered from a falling birthrate, and the problem is particularly acute in Seoul.

It is predicted that in 50 years the population of working age people in South Korea will have halved and nearly half the population will be over 65, with a huge impact on the economy. Politicians have declared it a ‘national emergency’. Long hours, lack of support for returners, a high gender pay gap, lack of support for mothers’ career progression and the cost of private tuition are some of the factors.

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