HR news round-up: From women in finance to menopause support

This week’s HR round-up covers everything from a report on how the gender pay gap for  women at the top of finance firms is widening to JLR’s new announcement on reproductive health and paternity leave.

Pile of money and graphs to indicate finance


Earnings gap widens at top for senior women in finance

The gap between the top-earning women and men in financial and professional services has widened in terms of income since the pandemic, according to a new study.

Despite the increased visibility of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) efforts within the sector, the research by the LSE’s The Women in Banking and Finance’s (WIBF) Accelerating Change Together (ACT) programme, suggests “a standstill in achieving tangible progress”.

It found:

  • Men continued to be significantly overrepresented in both the top 1% and top 10% of earners. This over-representation becomes more extreme towards the top of the income distribution. Women make up only 28.3% of people in the top 10%, and only 19.4% of the top 1% of earners – meaning men are more than four times as likely as women to be among those with very high incomes. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, the presence of women in the top 10% of earners increased by 2.5 percentage points. However, the gender composition of the top 1% fell slightly.
  • There is an overrepresentation of women in administrative roles, with women making up 66% of those roles, and underrepresentation in senior and highest-paid occupations, with women making up only 37% of corporate managers and directors and only 25% of science, research, engineering and technology professionals. Compared to pre-pandemic representation levels, there is a movement towards more equal representation across all occupations, but women are still facing difficulties to achieve higher-ranking, better paid positions within the sector.
  • The pandemic has not meaningfully changed the employment distribution of men and women. However, it shows a more balanced representation of men and women among full-time and part-time workers, suggesting a potential shift in the working patterns of men towards part-time roles.
  • Women are 5.8 percentage points less likely to be employed full time, 0.7 percentage points less likely to be in the top 1% and 9.3 percentage points less likely to be in the top 10% of earners. Moreover, women’s wages are 12% lower when compared to their male counterparts, even after controlling for a variety of factors including education, age and number of children and hours worked. Women are also 6.1 percentage points more likely to work part time, which can limit career advancement and income
  • The analysis also looked at different roles in detail and showed a noticeable shift for women in information technology roles within financial services, where there was a 5.5 percentage point increase in the likelihood of full-time employment and an 11.6 percentage point increase in the probability of being in the top decile of earners after the pandemic. In contrast, women occupying high-ranking positions, such as functional managers and directors, are 3.9 percentage points less likely to be employed full-time. Meanwhile, at the very top of leadership jobs, the report finds the gender gap has remained largely unchanged, with no significant changes for women in chief executives and
    senior officials’ roles.

Read more here.

Concerns expressed about childcare roll-out

The Department for Education has made good progress getting the extended childcare programme off the ground, but now faces huge challenges in increasing the number of places available for children, according to a letter sent to the Department by a parliamentary committee.

The Public Accounts Committee says the Department estimates that the early years workforce needs to grow by around 40,000 between now and September 2025, a 12% increase compared to July 2023 in order to extend 30 hours ‘free’ childcare to children of working parents from nine months onwards.

Even by this September, the Department estimates that early year providers will have to create 15,500 more new places nationally, rising to 84,500  by September 2025, with a fifth of local authorities having to increase the supply of hours by 20% or more.

The letter says that the Department is relying primarily on increases in hourly rates being enough to incentivise providers to increase places, without clarity over how providers plan to use the funding. It states: “It remains to be seen if the increases will provide sufficient incentive to expand or whether providers will use the opportunity to fill previous funding shortfalls, raise salaries or cover rising costs.”

Read more here.

Call for pension adequacy review

Seven in ten (71%) UK adults agree that the Government should set out a plan to increase the minimum auto-enrolment pension contribution rate if it’s too low for most people to achieve an income they could live off in retirement, according to research from insurance group Phoenix Group

When asked what an ‘adequate’ income in retirement is, the top response from UK adults was an income level where ‘basic needs are covered with some money left over for non-essentials’, and the majority believe it is government’s responsibility to ensure people achieve this retirement standard. This held true regardless of voting intention and eight in 10 UK adults (83%) support a government review to see whether the current pension system is delivering this outcome.

Phoenix Group is calling for a new pension adequacy review to support long-term financial security and is urging all political parties to commit to delivering this in the next Parliament. Phoenix suggests this should cover both private and state pensions, and whether they are working in a complementary way to deliver good retirement outcomes overall.

Parental bereavement bill passes

A Private Member’s Bill which aims to cover a legal ‘loophole’ for parents whose partner dies in pregnancy or childbirth, enabling them to access parental leave and pay as a day one right, has been passed.

The Bill came about because partners had to work for their employer for 26 weeks and give three months’ notice before the birth to access parental leave and pay.

Labour MP Chris Elmore put forward the Paternity Leave (Bereavement) Bill. The Government previously said it supported giving partners access to unpaid leave in these circumstances, but that the 26-week rule applies for all other types of parental pay. It calculates the Bill could affect up to 50 parents a year.

The Bill will cover England, Scotland and Wales.

Read more here.

Conservatives launch Triple Lock Plus plan

The Conservatives have said they will raise the tax-free pension allowance if they win the general election.

Under the “Triple Lock Plus” plans, the tax-free personal allowance for pensioners will increase by at least 2.5% or in line with the highest of earnings or inflation. The proposal comes amid fears that the freezing of income tax thresholds since 2021 could see hundreds of thousands of people on the state pension being taxed on their income by 2027.

Labour said the government’s plan was not “credible”, stating that it contradicted previous Conservative policy which has been to freeze income thresholds.

Lily Megson, Policy Director at My Pension Expert, said: “It’s a clear sign that Sunak is reverting to the old tried-and-tested model of trying to woo older voters immediately before a general election. Sadly, although the ‘Triple Lock Plus’ undoubtedly has merits, last-minute policies from a party bracing for defeat are not what pension planners need.

Meanwhile,  Labour has announced plans to scrap the lower earnings threshold for statutory sick pay, making workers eligible from the first day of illness. The move aims to address discrimination faced by low-paid employees who currently have to work through illness or stay at home without financial support. The proposal is part of Labour’s New Deal for Working People. The party also plans to allow workers to claim sick pay immediately, removing the current four-day waiting period. Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, said that the party is focused on tackling sickness at work and creating a fairer sick pay system. The Trades Union Congress welcomed the change, emphasising that everyone should have access to sick pay.

Read more here.

Support for Commissioner for Older People’s Rights in England

The Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee [WEC] has written to the Minister for Women and Equalities to set out the key themes and conclusions of its inquiry into the rights of older people, including strong support for the case for a Commissioner for Older People’s Rights in England.

In her letter, WEC Chair Caroline Nokes writes: “Despite the UK’s ageing population and the fundamental challenges and opportunities this presents for government policy, there is insufficient focus on ageing and older people in the machinery of government and wider governance framework…I believe that the case for a Commissioner for Older People’s Rights in England is now overwhelming.”

Read more here.

NAO to re-investigate Carer’s Allowance concerns

The National Audit Office is to conduct a further investigation into Carer’s Allowance following concerns about ongoing overpayments which carers are being forced to pay back.

The news follows a call from the Commons Work and Pensions Committee in early May. It wrote to the National Audit Office after holding two evidence-sessions on Carer’s Allowance this year, in part looking at progress made since the NAO’s 2019 investigation report into the benefit. It says that and other evidence has led the Committee to conclude that “problems remain with Carer’s Allowance”.

Read more here.

City law firm warns partners of negative performance reviews for not being in the office

Partners at law firm Addleshaw Goddard are reported to have been warned that not spending at least three days a week in the office may result in negative performance reviews.

The firm is the first in the City to implement such a policy. Andrew Johnston, the firm’s managing partner, stated: “I strongly believe that in a business like ours, nothing can replace the benefits to client service and firm culture that come from being physically present together.

“While there are benefits from having some flexibility in our working week, hybrid-working patterns are undoubtedly evolving, and spending time together can give us a real competitive advantage as we continue to focus on delivering excellent client service right across our business.”

JLR introduces menopause support

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is reported to have introduced a policy to support staff going through the menopause.

The new policy, developed with input from workers and diversity networks, offers changes to workwear, flexible working, additional breaks, and access to fans. In the last year JLR has also introduced support for pregnancy loss, extended adoption and surrogacy leave, shared parental leave and has doubled paternity pay.

Claire Parker, head of diversity and inclusion at JLR, stressed the importance of feeling supported at work, adding that the company will continue to evolve and improve its policies based on feedback from colleagues, employee-led networks, and trade unions.

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