Today a report by the Women and Equalities Select Committee says that the Government’s economic policies during the Coronavirus crisis risks turning the clock back on gender equality. Dr Abi Adams-Prassl gave oral evidence to the committee and her research into the effect of the pandemic on working lives was cited. In September 2020, she was appointed as a Special Advisor to the Select Committee and advised on drafting the report’s recommendations.
In her co-authored paper Furloughing, Adams-Prassl found that mothers were 10 percent more likely than fathers to ask to be furloughed, while there was no gender gap amongst those without children. The furlough scheme pays 80 percent of an employee’s earnings and employers have the option to top that up to the full salary. However, Abi noted that ‘As women are more likely to be employed on insecure contracts, this has meant that women were 10 percent less likely than men to receive a discretionary top-up to their furloughed earnings.’
Mandatory gender pay gap reporting was suspended for 2019/2020 but this was criticised by Adams-Prassl and others as evidence shows that reporting has a positive impact on women’s pay. The committee recommended that the reporting be reinstated. Adams-Prassl also argued that the evidence base on the gendered impact of the pandemic should be strengthened. She recommended that the gender pay gap reporting should be widened to include report on the gender composition of workers that were furloughed, made redundant, and had hours cuts over the pandemic.
Abi Adams-Prassl was thanked by the committee for her advice, expertise and significant contribution to the report.