In the past month, pay - in the form of unequal pay, gender pay gaps, overpayments, underpayments and whether pay should be discussed at all - has received a lot of coverage.
Firstly, there was the very fortunate Australian worker who was overpaid by A$500,000 because a wrongly placed decimal point meant he was paid 100 times his normal salary. The worker in question not only returned the money but, due to living in a remote location, had to travel to a bank to do so. It did though take him 4 weeks to return it - it's not clear what happened to the interest…
At the other end of the scale the UK government has discovered a record £15.6million worth of underpayments to workers in the past year with 200,000 workers missing out on being paid at least the minimum wage. The firms in question were fined a total of £14m as well has having to reimburse staff.
As the Great British Bake Off returned to our screens, Sandi Toksvig was the latest female to find she was being paid significantly less than her male predecessor - in this case Stephen Fry on QI. While, on the face of it, doing the same job it transpired Ms Toksvig was paid less than half of Mr Fry's fee. She also pointed out that generally speaking only women get asked about this, suggesting that Miles Jupp who took over from Toksvig as host on BBC radio's News Quiz would never have had to answer the question.
Meanwhile, the CBI has warned that asking any job applicant what they earn could have unintended consequences, trapping women on low pay as employers would offer new recruits a salary similar to the job they are leaving. Asking the question has already been banned in some states in the US and the Young Women's Trust, a charity supporting women on low or no pay, says that other than in exceptional circumstances UK companies should follow suit.
After all the publicity given to gender pay gap reporting in the last 12 months, a YouGov survey reveals that most people don’t actually know what the gender pay gap is confusing it with equal pay. For those that are still not sure - equal pay is one gender being paid less than the other for doing the same job, while the gender pay gap relates to women as a whole being paid less on average than men, often because there tends to be more women employed in lower paid roles and more men employed in senior roles.
On that theme, a report based on Financial Conduct Authority data suggest that women hold only a tiny minority of senior roles in financial services. Of 9,957 partners at private equity firms, hedge funds and other financial services companies, only 14% are women. There are 4,600 men earning more than £1m in the sector, but only 400 women.
Pay gaps are not simply gender related - there is significant evidence of ethnicity pay gaps also. A study in the British Medical Journal has found that black and minority ethnic consultants on average earned 4.9% less than white colleagues. The gap in lower grades was less but was still apparent.
Moving away from pay, the TUC has called for a 4 day working week. The claim is based on the benefits of new technology. However, while some businesses are managing to make a 4 day week work, reports suggest that for most British workers the trend is going in the other direction with the TUC claiming 1.4million people now work 7 days a week.
Researchers at the University of West of England have called for time spent emailing while commuting to count as work. The study found that 54% of people using wi-fi on the train were sending work emails with others using their own mobile phone connections to do the same thing.
Meanwhile, a study presented to the European Society of Cardiology has found that those who take less than 3 weeks holiday a year are more likely to die young.
Possible bad news for part-time workers too….. While flexible working is known to bring many benefits, a recent survey by Timewise has concluded that not being fully part of a team is a key barrier to career progress. The part-timers reported feeling their skills had fallen behind, that they were less up to date, less connected socially with their team and missing out on networking opportunities.
The GDPR has, as expected, resulted in an increase in data breach complaints. The Information Commissioner's Office received 6,281 complaints between 25 May and 3 July this year, a 160% increase. The media coverage when GDPR came into force is likely to have fuelled the number of complaints made.
The increase could also be explained by the fact that, according to research commissioned by the TUC, 56% of workers believe they are being monitored at work. The GDPR places significant limits on how employers can monitor employees but a significant numbers of workers remain suspicious that some form of covert monitoring is going on.
And finally, just as auto-enrolment is up and running Brexit rears its head again - this time with the Home Secretary recommending scrapping auto-enrolment if the UK leaves the EU with no deal. According to the Times newspaper, the suggestion was made as an emergency measure that may be needed to keep the economy ticking over.