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Graduates reluctant to relocate whilst flexible working for all is being called for

A new study has called for all jobs to be advertised with flexible working in an attempt to tackle the gender pay gap. The move would give fathers additional paternity leave and level the playing field amongst flexible, full-time and part-time workers.

The research from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) feels that these sweeping employment changes need to be made to not only tackle the gender pay gap but also to increase job opportunities for disabled people. This study came a week after the BBC revealed the pay of their highest paid stars which showed a vast disparity between the pay rates of men and women at the corporation.

The EHRC feels that Britain should follow the approach of Scandinavian countries who offer working fathers a greater amount of paid paternity leave which may help to allow more men to request flexible working arrangements. This could help women as they may be able to return to work, receive a better level of pay and not face discrimination if men are also taking longer breaks or working more flexibly.

Deputy chair of the EHRC, Caroline Waters, said; “We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps. While there has been some progress, it has been painfully slow. We need radical change now, otherwise we’ll be having the same conversation for decades to come.”

Regardless of what has been said politically over the last year, the EHRC feels that these recommendations are important and should be acted on as soon as possible. The Guardian recently discovered that it would take the civil service over 37 years to achieve full pay equality with pay gaps widening at one in four government departments over the last decade.

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The research also looks at the differences in pay across race, gender and disability and has found some alarming statistics. The EHRC found that the public sector has a smaller pay gap than the private sector but in comparison to countries across Europe, where a higher proportion of father take longer paternity leave, the pay disparity is much larger.

This all comes at the same time as figures from the Resolution Foundation who have found that there is an unwillingness from many UK graduates to move from their home region in the name of finding work. The Resolution Foundation regarded this as the reason for the marked fall in the UK labour market since the turn of the millennium.

Their figures show that the amount of the population who are willing to switch region and employer had fallen from 0.8% to 0.6% in 2016. This decline in figures came despite factors such as a rise in the number of graduates, an increase in renting and higher immigration which would usually make the residents of a country more mobile.

Although evidence shows that a person under 30 who moved job and employer secured an 11% increase in their earnings, young people are still reluctant to move giving up their chance of getting a pay rise. This drop has come at the same time as in increase in the number of graduates doing non-graduate jobs which is potentially fuelling Britain’s low pay and low productivity levels in the last 10 years.

Policy analyst at the Resolution Foundation, Stephen Clarke, commented on the findings to say; “With only 10% of those moving regions for jobs previously unemployed, the focus needs to be on why there has been a fall in the share of people already in work moving region and employer, a move that leaves the typical earner £2,000 better off. Job mobility matters not just for the individual getting the pay rise but to our economy as a whole.”

Showcasing just how much things have changed since the beginning of the millennium, the Resolution Foundation found that in 2001, 31% of graduates were doing jobs they were overqualified for and 1.8% of graduates moved region and employer. However, in 2016, only 1% of graduates moved region or employer on average with 35.6% working in non-graduate roles.

Mr Clarke finished his analysis of the research to point out that more needs to be done to help graduates and young families; “But not everyone can up sticks. Alongside encouraging more mobility among the minority of in-work people – such as young people and graduates – for whom it is often more feasible to move, we should be improving thinking on how people can move into jobs they are qualified for without uprooting their family’s lives. That involves thinking not just about progression and employment, but housing and transport too.”

More and more experts are now calling for changes to be made to the jobs market to help it grow and develop for the workers of tomorrow who looking for a more flexible approach to their careers. The best way to future proof businesses is to understand these changes and use technology to adapt in a way that will benefit employers and employees for now and in the future.

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