Articles and reports of Interest March 2021

In each of our CLEW'd In Newsletters we gather a selection of interesting articles and reports received at CLEW from a range of sources and on a range of topics related to employment and work. In particular we acknowledge the APO Policy Weekly for alerting us to interesting papers from across the Tasman. The following are articles collected in the last month for our March edition of CLEW'd IN, CLEW's bi-monthly newsletter.

Women’s Casual Job Surge Widens Gender Pay Gap. A briefing paper by Alison Pennington Senior Economist, the Australia Institute - Centre for Future Work.

The gendered nature of the pandemic’s effects on Australia’s labour market have clear implications for addressing pay inequality. Not only has the quantity of women’s paid work been reduced compared with men, but the quality of those jobs has been undermined during the post-COVID recovery. Women workers are “snapping back” to a world of paid work that engages them on inferior terms compared with men (lesser hours, security and pay).

The gender pay gap narrowed between November 2019 and May 2020 as women lost thousands of low-paid jobs. But the disproportionate concentration of women in newly-created casual jobs is now returning the gender pay gap back to almost equal its pre-pandemic dimensions. In other words, the gender pay gap has once again widened as the economy “recovered”. Measuring the gender pay gap using total average earnings data (including both full-time and part-time workers, and bonuses and overtime as well as ordinary time wages) indicates that the gender pay gap is now 31.2% across all jobs.

Morissette, René and Theresa Hanqing Qiu. 2021. Adjusting to Job Loss When Times Are Tough. IRPP Study 82. Montreal: Institute for Research on Public Policy

This study by Statistics Canada researchers René Morissette and Theresa Hanqing Qiu documents the use of four adjustment strategies by Canadian workers permanently laid off in 2009 — in the middle of the last recession: moving to another region, enrolling in post-secondary education, signing up for a registered apprenticeship and becoming self-employed. The authors examine whether the adoption of strategies varied according to workers’ characteristics and their employment status a year after job loss, and to what extent it differed in the short and long terms.

Victorians’ experiences of sexism and sexual harassment while working remotely due to the coronavirus, Report of VicHealth, January 2021.

With workplaces moving increasingly online, experiences of sexism and sexual harassment in the workplace, and taking action in response, are also changing. However, there has been a lack of research into sexism and sexual harassment in remote working, despite the importance of this work in the current context. In partnership with the Victorian Office for Women and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth), The Behavioural Insights Team (BIT) has undertaken research to fill this gap.2 We surveyed a representative sample of 1,109 workers from across Victoria who were working remotely between March - September 2020.

The findings of the survey represent a particular and unprecedented moment in time, when coronavirus lockdowns were forcing the majority of Victorians who were able to work, to do so from home. Nonetheless, understanding what sexism and sexual harassment looked like in this context is a critical first step in enabling policy makers and workplaces to effectively develop strategies to tackle these behaviours, and prepare for the increase in flexible work practices we are likely to see across Victoria in 2021.

Meehan, L., & Watson, N. (2021). The future of work in New Zealand: An empirical examination. New Zealand Work Research Institute, Auckland.

This recently released report examines the adoption of future-of-work (FoW) practices, processes and technology in New Zealand workplaces. It uses the 2018 Business Operations Survey (BOS) linked to administrative data from Stats NZ’s Integrated Data Infrastructure (IDI) and Longitudinal Business Database (LBD) to examine two main questions, each with a firm-level and an individual-level component. First, ‘What proportion of firms are using FoW practices and what share of workers are employed by these firms?’. In addition, ‘What firm characteristics are associated with being more likely to have FoW practices and what worker characteristics affect the odds of being employed by such firms?’. We investigate a variety of practices associated with the FoW, covering areas such as employee engagement and inclusion policies, flexible leave and work options, automation and digitalisation, and the use of collective agreements and non-standard work.