Weekly news round-up

From new guidance on menopause and menstruation to career cushioning, we bring you a digest of this week’s main HR news.

Woman in front of a laptop with colleagues in the background


Guidance published on menopause and menstruation

The UK’s national standards body has published new guidance designed to help organisations support employees experiencing menopause or menstruation and to aid retention.

BSI has published the Menstruation, menstrual health and menopause in the workplace standard (BS 30416), following extensive consultation, which sets out practical recommendations for workplace adjustments, as well as strategies to sit alongside existing well-being initiatives, to help organisations “meet the needs of employees experiencing menopause or menstruation”.

BS 30416 has been developed to help organisations identify misconceptions around menstruation and peri/menopause and the impact a taboo surrounding them can have on workplace support.

Employers need to do more on learning and development of older workers

Employers are doing less to support and encourage older workers to take up learning and development opportunities than they are for younger workers, according to new research.

The research, conducted by YouGov for Business in the Community [BITC], found that only one in five (21%) older workers (those aged 50-59) feel that their employer pushes them to upskill at work, compared to 56% of those aged 18-29.

When asked whether their employer has developed a clear training and development plan for them, only 16% of those aged 50-59 said that they had a clear plan in place for their development, compared to 38% of those aged 18-29. BITC says this shows that those aged over 50 are twice as likely to have had no training or development support in their current role.

When asked which skills were most important to develop, the research found that older workers who were looking to upskill were most interested in developing technical skills related to their current role (35%), digital skills (32%) and leadership skills (27%). In contrast, those aged 18-29 were most interested in developing leadership skills (41%), project management (34%) and effective communication (32%).

Call for action on gender pensions gap

Closing the gender pensions gap should be an urgent priority for government with analysis showing that the UK has a worse problem than other countries across industries and with little or no progress being made, says the TUC.

Its new report, The gender pensions gap, draws on research from the union Prospect that shows women have annual incomes that are £7,100 a year – or 40.5 per cent – lower than men. It points out the UK’s gap is “unusually wide” compared to other countries.

There is also little sign of any progress being made. The TUC says the gap has remained stable over the five years Prospect has been calculating it and that this year’s figure is actually slightly higher than the average gap of 39.6 per cent over the five-year period.

The report says tackling the gender pensions gap will require changes in three main areas: gathering better data; addressing the causes of the gaps, for instance, by improving the care infrastructure, extending shared parental leave and boosting flexible working rights; and making the occupational pension system work better for people on low pay so that inequalities in working life are not replicated or magnified in retirement.

When it comes to data, it calls on the Government to develop official metrics of the gender pensions gap and to consider mandatory reporting on it. The report also calls on the Government to require employer to publish action plans to explain what steps they’ll take to close gender pay gaps, with fines for those that don’t comply.

Over-fifties add second jobs

Analysis of official data shows that the number of people aged 50 and older with a second job has increased by more than 100,000 since 2013. The study by Rest Less, which offers advice to older workers, shows that the total hit 440,000 in Q1. This means that of the 1.27m people in the UK with a second job, over a third are 50 and older.

Stuart Lewis, chief executive of Rest Less, warned that some over-50s who are unable to find secure and stable work due to age discrimination and a lack of flexible working opportunities are forced to take unsecure, low-paid jobs “and find themselves needing to juggle a number of part-time jobs in order to make ends meet”. This trend, he added, “will have been exacerbated by high inflation and the current cost-of-living crisis”.

Amazon launches term-time contract

Amazon has launched a new term-time contract for parents, grandparents and guardians and is piloting a new flexible part-time contract.

The term-time contract, which doesn’t affect the benefits employees receive, was trialled at three sites following employee feedback and are now being phased in at Amazon fulfillment centres. They will be rolled out to sort centres and delivery stations across the UK later this year. It will mean people with children to look after can take six weeks of holiday in summer and two weeks at Easter and at Christmas.

The flexible part-time contract is for a minimum of 80 hours a month and allows employees to pick and mix the shifts which suit their needs; part-day or full-day, day or night, weekday or weekend.

A third of workers are ‘career cushioning’

A poll by recruiter Robert Walters shows that 37% of workers have taken steps to prepare to look for another job. The firm says ‘career cushioning’ – the process of a worker being proactive about their career prospects to soften the blow should anything go wrong with their current job – has grown in prominence amid concerns over the economy and a possible recession.

Among white-collar workers, the main reasons causing them to career cushion are a lack of job security (72%), uncertain economic conditions (55%), internal changes within their business (45%), and low job satisfaction (33%). When asked what type of tactics workers were taking to create a career cushion, monitoring the jobs market (66%) and tidying up their CV (43%) came out on top.

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