We start this month with the news that almost half of those on zero hours contracts want more secure work. The statistics come from a report by three labour market economists and contradicts earlier research which suggested that many gig economy workers were content to use zero hours contracts because of the benefits of flexible working they brought.
While the autumn budget covered next April's changes to the national living wage, the real living wage increased on 5 November 2018. The real living wage is a voluntary payment rate that is intended to reflect what people need to spend to feed, clothe and house themselves. This year's increase sees those living in London being paid £10.55 per hour and everyone else being paid £9 per hour, a rise of 2.8%.
Following the numerous employment tribunal findings against gig economy companies over the past couple of years there was also news this month that companies including CitySprint and Uber are to be called to give evidence to a parliamentary inquiry into companies that have allegedly continued to deny workers' rights despite the tribunal rulings. The inquiry comes just as Uber's appeal, against the EAT's finding that their drivers were workers, is due to be heard in the Court of Appeal.
The parliamentary inquiry referred to above seems all the more timely given the recent report published by the TUC which states that almost half of supposedly self-employed adults aged 25 or over were earning less than the minimum wage. The report makes a connection between the low wages and what they term bogus self-employment in the gig economy.
Meanwhile, the UK Government has announced a series of measures which they say will back businesses and support workers. Particularly high profile amongst those are the plans to introduce legislation to ensure that tips left for workers will go to them in full.
The concern that robots could replace workers seems to be becoming more and more widespread as their use becomes more commonplace. However, a report from the World Economic Forum is now suggesting that new technologies has the capacity to create almost double the number of jobs it puts at risk. Of course, it all depends on the type of work you do and may not allay the concerns of those at risk of being replaced by ethical robot lawyers ………
The CIPD has published some research suggesting that nearly 50% of workers are mismatched to their jobs, with 12% being under-skilled and 37% being over-skilled. The research highlights the impact of mismatching on job satisfaction and aims to provide a picture of the UK's skills base.
The Office for National Statistics has recently announced the positive news that the gender pay gap has fallen to its lowest level yet, dropping from 9.1% to 8.6%. It is remains the case that the gender pay gap varies according to age with older female workers much more likely to be underpaid in comparison with similarly aged male workers.
The impact of gender pay gap reporting has also been highlighted this month. The Equality and Human Rights Commission have published a survey showing that 61% of women would take an organisation's gender pay gap into consideration when applying for a job. Women are also less likely to recommend their own employer as a place to work if they had a gender pay gap and their own motivation in their role would be reduced. These findings will put more pressure on organisations to find a way to show a reduction in gaps by the time that they report again in April 2019.
As the likelihood of ethnicity pay gap reporting increases with the recent publication of a Government consultation, we are reminded of the fact that unequal pay is an issue affected by ethnicity as well as gender. Two recent reports have shown not only a lack of BAME representation in senior management in the NHS, but also that white consultants are paid on average £4,664 more a year than those from any sort of BAME background.
The last 12 months does seem to have led to an increase in the number of people who would challenge sexual harassment at work with 35% of those asked in a survey by the Fawcett Society saying they would speak up. However, willingness to speak out differs with age with men over 55 being more likely to ignore harassment. The Fawcett Society has recommended stronger legislation to deal with the problem including the re-introduction of the third party harassment provisions of the Equality Act 2010 and a duty to prevent discrimination and harassment to apply to organisations with 250 or more employees.
Research led by Loughborough University has concluded that workers with standing desks are less tired and more engaged than their colleagues who sit. Workers who were given the desks were found to have reduced their sitting time by more than an hour per day over a 12 month period. While participants also suggested they were less anxious and cited an improved quality of life, no notable improvement in job satisfaction, cognitive function or sickness absence was seen.
And finally, has the news that Mark Wahlberg starts his day at 2:30am inspired you to give it a try? The theory is that the early start may make you more productive but with a schedule that includes a 90 minute work out, a round of golf and a 90 minute recovery in a "cryo-chamber" (surely he's sleeping in there) Mr Wahlberg may not be a particularly relevant comparator for most of us….