As I’ve been saying for some decades

Good to see the Treasury has taken the point onboard:

Recommendations published alongside the Treasury’s annual pay report highlighted home working as one of the key policies that it believes will drive down a 17pc gap between what men and women are paid at Britain’s finance ministry.

For we do not have a gender pay gap. We have a primary childcarer pay gap. If folk can work from home and so be primary childcarer and also, well, work, then that gap will diminish.

Whether we want to solve this gap is another question – I’m fine with the idea that people who make different choices in life gain different rewards – but at least we’re getting the cause of the gap correctly identified these days.

22 thoughts on “As I’ve been saying for some decades”

  1. Julia, It’s easy to work from home AND look after sprogs . Chain ‘em to a radiator in front of the big screen tele,put teletubbies and Mr Tumble on repeat and leave a plentiful supply of quavers and fruit shoots within reach. Simples.

  2. people who make different choices in life gain different rewards

    And some of the best rewards are not measurable in financial terms, a fact that strident equal-pay agitators prefer to ignore.

  3. We look after our granddaughter, not quite two, for one day most weeks, and it’s pretty full on. You could chain them to Cbeebies while you work but that’s hardly the life experience that they need at that age.

  4. My experience of child minding is limited, but it’s always seemed to require at least a 48 hour day.

    If anyone can do better, they have my congratulations.

  5. If you are working from home, you should be working, surely? Not doing childcare at the same time?

    The next step will be to ask for designated child care time during the working day. Paid, of course. Because it would be discriminatory if it didn’t happen.

  6. “If you are working from home, you should be working, surely? Not doing childcare at the same time?”

    Depending on the age, a lot of childcare is like being a security guard after hours. You have to be there, but there’s not a lot going on. Babies sleep a lot. And when active, you don’t work, so you make up for the time.

    Like the dog seems to like my company. She doesn’t need attention much. To be let out to do business or chase a squirrel, play with the frisbee. It’s no more of a distraction than people bothering me with sponsorship forms or whatever.

  7. Anyone working in a massive bureaucracy like the Treasury can probably handle childcare with the time wasted on unproductive meetings. Outside of very young ages, WFH mainly remediates the State’s bizarre decision to make work and school hours different.

    As for the pay gap, I bet it has minimal effect as couples continue to specialise their labour. However, cohort effects and low fertility rates will probably accomplish the goal anyway.

  8. “If you are working from home, you should be working, surely? Not doing childcare at the same time?”

    When I was a kid, pre-primary school age, in the summertime my mother would be needed to help my father do hay making in the summer, so she’d take me with her. We had an old tractor that had a double seat, so when I was really small I was strapped in beside her, later on when I was too big for that I would be put on a blanket by the side of the field with a supply of books and toys and threatened with bodily violence if I so much as thought about moving off the blanket, while she drove off and turned the hay. I survived…..

  9. I’ve been on calls and there’s a child in the background it’s very distracting, but there’s a certain pressure not to comment or say anything
    Sadly it seems asking people to act in a professional manner is considered toxic male aggression these days

  10. Some of you may have heard of schools.

    When kids are little they often have to be taken to school, and then fetched. That is incompatible with being in the office, but not incompatible with working from home.

    When I was the primary child minder I had at least a working day free once they reached school age, given that an actual day’s work is often six hours.

    Plus they go to bed early enough that you get a couple more hours in the early evening. Mine read in bed, so that was an extra hour gained.

    If it had been an option back then, I would seriously have looked at it.

  11. Crikey. Haven’t we heard enough on this subject? Broadly speaking it’s the tiny minority of the workforce who contribute very little of what we need in our lives. You’ll note that it’s the government’s Treasury department under discussion here. Case proved? Those we need are the ones got to their workplace because that’s where there work is. So if they want to WFH let ’em work WFH. Maybe in time we can forget they ever existed & overlook sending their wage checks.

  12. To enlarge on BIS’s points, what we learned from lockdown is that there are jobs without which society falls apart. And they are not glamorous jobs for the most part – checkout workers, guards, data centre techs, cleaners, gardeners, sewer workers, delivery drivers, farmers, dustmen, bank clerks, some medics and nurses…. Notice that managerial staff are not on that list because presence at the workplace is not usually essential for stuff to happen. It can be done remotely. However, quality control does need to take place unless we want to be overwhelmed by fat bergs

  13. My experience of child minding is limited, but it’s always seemed to require at least a 48 hour day.

    If anyone can do better, they have my congratulations.

    Indeed, its almost like its ideal to have 2 parents or something (2*24 = …?)

  14. “For Some Decades”: hence the interest in extra national Insurance contributions, eh? But do you still feel young?

  15. It’ll all come out in the wash in the end, Diogenes. The thing about so many of these WFH-able jobs is the only marker for productivity is that that they’re actually at their desks. Something I’ve noticed over the years. You rarely get people who hands on type of work complaining about the demands or stress of their jobs. Yet you ever tried taking a 40 foot artic through city traffic? Or being 6 floors up on a roof in a high wind when one slip could have you making a high speed acquaintance with the pavement? They’re paid on what they get done. They don’t work they don’t earn. You don’t think that’s demanding & stressful?
    No, they keep telling themselves & everyone else WFH is a more productive lifestyle choice whilst the productivity of the country continues to slide into an abyss because being available for the school run & mow the lawn does not make shit happen. Let’s hope hey don’t take everyone else down with them.

  16. BiS, they’re bureaucrats; it’s probably better if they’re working less.

    Of course it would be better if they we didn’t have to pay them as well, but paying them to sit at home with their brats is probably still better for the country than paying them to mess everyone else’s lives up.

  17. “Or being 6 floors up on a roof in a high wind” Child’s play. Try being nearly 300′ foot up, finding something that needs freeing off, going down to the ground to find the fitter foreman, asking him to send one of his chaps up to do the work at the point where I’d left my tag, and being told “Up there in this wind? Not likely!”

    Spineless buggers, the working class.

  18. BIS,

    “The thing about so many of these WFH-able jobs is the only marker for productivity is that that they’re actually at their desks. ”

    Oh no. That really doesn’t work. Because people manipulate that with a variety of things. Sit at your desk, but you’re goofing on Facebook, Twitter or whatever. Go and attend as many possible meetings or diversity seminars where you can chill out and drink coffee.

    The problem with WFH is the same as offices, that there’s a lot of managers who don’t measure output. In the public sector they just don’t care, and in the private sector, they are bluffers who are shit at their job, so all they measure on is whether you’re at your desk at 09:00. They don’t know if what you are doing is a good amount of output, or high quality.

    I have two clients in smaller businesses who get it right: they want a thing built, and they give me a date. I deliver it and bill my time. Sometimes they arrange a meeting so I fix to that, but outside that, they don’t care when and where I work. They only care if they don’t have it on time. Which is how it should be. You order a thing from Dell or Amazon, what do you care about? You care that it arrives in 3 days and does what it’s supposed to do.

    Most people would be aghast at the bureaucracy in the public sector. It’s not universal. There’s a lot of really good people who try and make a difference. But waste is endemic. The IT systems that cost hundreds of millions and overrun or are cancelled are not weird exceptions. OK, they’re exceptional because of the cost. But lots of £1m software systems get canned that you never hear about. The problem is that no-one starts yelling at a project manager or lobbing chairs around a room because a system still isn’t ready. The only ways to get fired from the public sector are for kiddy fiddling or theft. Maybe.

  19. I’d say you’ve proved my point there BoM4. It’s not as if WFH is anything new. Outwork. Very common in the rag trade. But it’s done at piece rate. And if you can’t measure people’s productivity at their work place, the only indication there’s anything actually going on is that they’re at their desks.
    Sure, management is dreadful. Years ago I did a period of temp office work. I can remember going to one place, I hadn’t a clue what I was doing. Assisting Nobody told me to do anything. So I spent a fortnight trying to look inconspicuous but busy. Never did a stroke. And, incredibly, a while later they asked the agency for me specifically to return for another go. NE London regional health authority, I think it was. Had a superb canteen.
    My experience of WFH’ers was dealing with Barclays bank during your lockdown. They’d frozen my current account with half a million quid in it. I kept a record of how long I was on the phone. Fourteen & half hours of either waiting listening to Sade’s Smooth Operator (added insult to injury-she’s a friend of mine) or being told they couldn’t do anything about it, with various excuses. It was a girl at Barclaycard who eventually got it unblocked when I phoned them on another matter. There’s a reason call centres have such onerous regimes. How else would they get anything done? They need a metric for productivity & being at your workstation & on a call is the only one there is.

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