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The pandemic’s disproportionate effect on women

Earlier this year, the Government suspended the enforcement of gender pay gap reporting due to the coronavirus pandemic. In 2019 the gender pay gap stood at 17.3% in the UK. However, with the virus disproportionately impacting women over men (both in the workplace and at home), it could be argued that this year may have been even more important than ever to maintain reporting and keep momentum on equal rights.

On average, women across the globe earn less than men, tend to save less, and are more likely to work in the informal economy; consequently, they have less job security. It is because of this that a woman’s capacity to withstand economic disruption is less than that of a man. This is compounded by the fact that women also tend to be primary caregivers. UK mothers are 150% more likely than fathers to have had to quit their job or were made redundant during the lockdown, as reported by Institute for Fiscal Studies.

It is estimated that some 740 million women across the globe are employed in the ‘informal’ economy, constituting roughly 66% of female employment in developing countries. These jobs were significantly impacted by lockdowns, as they were not only halted but fell outside of government economic protections, such as the UK’s job protection (furlough) scheme or the self-employed income support scheme.

Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “COVID-19 could reverse the limited progress that has been made on gender equality and women’s rights”. This is not only economic issue but a social one too. The UK’s largest domestic abuse charity, Refuse, reported a 700% increase in calls in a single day at the outset of the lockdown in April.

On average, women across the globe earn less than men, tend to save less, and are more likely to work in the informal economy; consequently, they have less job security.

With the potential of a second lockdown ahead of us, it is more important than ever for employers to continue to promote women’s rights in the workplace and to keep striving for gender equality.

Our employment team has significant experience in dealing with sex discrimination and equal pay claims. Read our high-profile success. We also offer training to employers on discrimination and the promotion of an inclusive workplace. Please do not hesitate to get in touch to find out more.

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This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.

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