This week’s WM People HR news round-up covers everything from workingmums.co.uk’s annual survey results to a right to request more predictable hours.
New research reveals the extent of the debt among mothers and its impact on their own mental health and that of their children.
According to figures from workingmums.co.uk, over half of all mothers (52%) have debts outside their mortgage and student loan, with almost one in ten owing more than £20,000. For nearly half (47%) this is personal rather than household debt.
The annual Working Mums survey also reveals how the cost-of-living crisis is piling on additional financial pressure, leaving families struggling to pay for childcare and basic food supplies as well as feeling the mental strain.
Almost a quarter of respondents (23%) have been cutting back on basic food supplies to save cash. One in five has used a food bank in the last year, and 15% of those rely on this support weekly, if not more frequently.
When it comes to childcare, well over half (57%) say the cost of living is having an impact on their childcare decisions. 55% of those who pay for childcare say the cost has risen significantly in the last few months, with 66% of parents with school-aged children saying they can’t afford the after school and holiday childcare they need.
Part of the problem is that while soaring inflation has pushed prices higher, wages haven’t seen the same increases. Only a fifth (22%) say their pay has risen in line with or more than inflation, 41% haven’t had a pay rise, and 37% had a rise that was less than inflation. As a result, 41% of mothers have increased their hours, and 42% have been forced to take on another job or side hustle to top up their wages. Almost a third (29%) have changed jobs recently in order to get more money.
Read more here.
A new Bill which gives workers on zero hours contracts the right to ask for more predictable working hours has received Royal Assent.
The Workers (Predictable Terms and Conditions) Bill means people on atypical contracts, including zero hours contracts and fixed-term contracts of less than 12 months can make a formal application to change their working patterns to make it more predictable. Once a worker has made their request, their employer will be required to notify them of their decision within a month.
Acas will produce a new Code of Practice giving clear guidance on making and handling requests for consultation in the next few weeks. It is expected that the law will be implemented in about a year’s time.
A new coalition has been launched to tackle a lack of diversity across the construction industry.
The Construction Inclusion Coalition (CIC) has been established by CEOs at leading organisations including Aliaxis, Baxi, Bradfords, Highbourne Group, Ibstock PLC, Knauf, Travis Perkins PLC, Wavin, Wolseley, the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) and the National Merchant Buying Society (NMBS), to raise sector standards on equity, diversity and inclusion, with an immediate focus on gender representation in its first year.
The Coalition is being launched alongside new polling which shows that only one third (36%) of British people would feel confident that their female family or friends would be safe and respected if they joined the construction industry. The research of over 2,000 adults also outlines the opportunity for the sector, with nearly half of people (46%) saying they’d be more likely to actively seek out employment opportunities in the construction industry if it demonstrated a stronger commitment to diversity and inclusion.
The Coalition is urging businesses across the industry to join the initiative and take the Built on Better Pledge. The pledge covers seven areas members commit to working on.
Hybrid and remote working has boosted the number of women, particularly mums, who can work full time, with three quarters of hybrid workers saying it improves their work-life balance, according to a new study.
The study by the Hybrid Work Commission found professional women have become more likely to work full time – in finance and insurance, up from 75 per cent to 83 per cent. The change was even more pronounced for mothers, it says, with the proportion working full-time increasing by more than 10 percentage points in finance and IT.
The commission found that three-quarters of hybrid workers felt it improved their work-life balance, and 70 per cent of those with children under 18 said it made juggling their responsibilities easier. However, a majority of employers operating with hybrid work arrangements were not convinced they boosted productivity.
Skilled, healthy and fair work should form the basis of the long-term workforce that the UK urgently needs, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development.
Publishing the CIPD Manifesto for Good Work it says priority areas for policymakers are skills development, digital adoption and business support.
On skilled work, recommendations include reforming the failing apprenticeship levy into a flexible skills levy. On healthy work its recommendations include the creation of a single enforcement body to protect workers’ health and rights, a reform of statutory sick pay and a new taskforce to consider the potential risks of fast-moving developments in AI. And on fair work, recommendations include an increase in statutory paternity leave, a review and reform of Shared Parental Leave and new requirements to include basic pay and pension information in job adverts to improve transparency and help reduce pay gaps.
One in 10 people aged between 50 and state pension age don’t work but want to, according to new research.
The “Good job?” research paper by the International Longevity Centre estimates 1.65 million people aged between 50 and 69 have been pushed out of work early due to a combination of redundancy, ill health or early retirement.
It says the rates of involuntary exit from work start rising around age 40 and are highest among people in their late 50s and early 60s. And it adds that, despite some improvements from employers, a failure to act to support longer working lives means that millions of over 50s are being forced from their jobs due to circumstances beyond their control.
The report points out that, due to labour shortages and an ageing population, the UK needs people to stay in work for longer. Previous ILC research has also shown that 7.2% of people are underemployed – they’d like to work more than they do – and that two in five adults are economically inactive, often due to long-term sickness.
A third of workers have looked to reduce or top their pension contribution in the past two years, with nearly a half of under 34s doing so mainly in response to rises in the cost of living and mortgages, according to a new survey.
The survey by Royal London estimates that stopping pension savings may bump up take home pay by £1,404 per annum, but would mean losing out on £4,092 pension savings a year for workers earning £35k due to employers matching contributions and tax relief. Royal London says that amount could be even larger the longer pension money is invested.
Those on higher wages risk losing the most. The Royal London calculates that, for a higher rate taxpayer on a salary of £70,000 and 8% matched pensions contributions, pension pots would shrink by £12,192 if contributions were paused for a year, rising to a projected £31,508 in 20 years’ time.
The survey of over 6,000 adults says 12% of pension savers are reducing the amount they pay into workplace savings, with the cost of living cited by 55% and rising mortgage costs by 15%.
Meanwhile, a poll from asset manager Abrdn shows that 58% of UK adults over 40 are anxious about the prospect of retiring, with many having to dip into savings as the cost-of-living climbs. The poll found that almost 40% are concerned they might not have enough money to last them through retirement, with 13% delaying their retirement plans because of the cost-of-living crisis.
Read more here.
Searches for flexible working had an uptick in the UK in July after the Flexible Working Bill received Royal Assent, according to new analysis.
The analysis by PR company Lem-uhn, using Google Trends, shows searchers for ‘flexible working’ and ‘working from home’ are 59% more popular in the UK than in Australia, and 67% than in Ireland, the second and third most popular countries looking for flexible work.