Furlough scheme changes were announced by Rishi Sunak recently in his 2021 Budget, with the Chancellor detailing the Job Retention Scheme would be extended into September. Today, the ONS released research on how coronavirus effects differ between men and women, as recent data shows furlough plans are impacting people differently.
The ONS analysed previously published data from across their datasets and combined it with Government work on the different effects on men and women throughout the first year of the coronavirus pandemic.
They noted while more men died from coronavirus, women’s well-being was more negatively impacted than men’s during the first year of the pandemic.
They went on to examine the furlough scheme, which could have had a role to play in how people are affected by coronavirus: “Women were more likely to be furloughed, and to spend significantly less time working from home, and more time on unpaid household work and childcare.”
The ONS explained the pandemic has forced many people to change the way they work, with the furlough scheme and an increase in the proportion of people working from home being examples of this.
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It was also shown that “roughly equal” numbers of men and women (86 percent) cited the pandemic as their reason for working from home in April 2020, the period where the initial lockdown was introduced.
Both men and women have moved to homeworking and while men initially helped more with unpaid work and childcare, the difference increased in September to early October 2020 when compared with the start of the pandemic.
As furlough continues, some experts warn women may be hit harder economically moving forward than men, with the City & Guilds Group recently warning coronavirus “must not set the clock back” on gender equality in the workplace.
In analysing the results of a poll of 1,000 employed or furloughed workers, City & Guilds Group’s research warned the pandemic’s impact, combined with the “long-standing opportunity gaps that women already face”, suggest women are set to be hit particularly hard in the current climate.
The same insight found even pre-pandemic, 18 percent of women were unable to secure better jobs since they were unable to work the hours required, while part-time workers, a contingent made up of more women than men, were less likely to receive workplace training than full-time employees (62 percent vs 72 percent) and were less inclined to believe there were opportunities for progression (22 percent vs 36 percent).
In examining the furlough scheme, City & Guilds Group warned women stand a greater chance of losing their jobs once the furlough scheme draws to a close.
Kirstie Donnelly, the CEO at City & Guilds Group, commented on this: “Worryingly, many women are in jobs that are at high risk of disappearing due to the pandemic.
“But it’s crucial that equal opportunities for women to upskill, reskill and progress in their jobs do not fall by the wayside.
“We need to recognise that this is an issue which must be addressed, and it starts with encouraging more flexible working practices and taking a fairer approach to in-work progression for women.
“If we fail to do this, there is a very real risk of undoing the progress made towards gender equality.
“Economic slowdowns disproportionately affect women – we need to make sure this isn’t the case and that women are not crowned the losers of this pandemic. Gender balance in the workplace isn’t just a nice to have – it is a critical component to the growth and success of any organisation.
“We need the diverse perspectives and leadership styles of both women and men for organisations and societies to thrive. That’s why it’s crucial that women are empowered to gain the skills they need to progress within their own industry or to make a move to a more secure job.”
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