Pay gap problems in the UK?

The government have today announced that it wants to press ahead with plans for larger businesses in the UK to disclose information on gender pay.

The Office for National Statistics (“ONS”) figures have previously shown that woman actually get paid more than men during their 20’s and early 30’s but after that a pay gap starts to emerge as they get older, and the latest ONS figures suggest that the gap is currently 9.4% in favour of men.

This gap later in life is thought to appear when women decide that they have different life priorities and, if they have families, may be happier to take shorter weeks, flexi-hours or part-time roles.

The consultation is due to start this week and will ask businesses and interested groups how this system should work, how should any regulation and reporting be implemented (including what will need to be recorded, when and where information will be published and what action could be taken against businesses that pay different genders different salaries etc).

The coalition legislation, that was agreed in the last Parliament, required businesses with more than 250 employees to publish the average pay of male and female employees – currently just a few hundred firms publish their details. The conservatives have since included mandatory equal pay reporting in their election manifesto.

Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women and Equalities, said today “The gender pay gap is the lowest on record, but it could be better”. Nicky also went on to say that as a nation we need to use and recognise all of the business talents that we have, and that the government need to provide the opportunity for women to get into roles that pay more.

The proposed move is expected to show the discrepancies between the genders and increase pressure to change pay, driving women’s wages up to meet their male counterparts.

We are making some headway with gender equality in the UK, the government recently announced that 25% of FTSE 100 boardroom seats are filled by women which was a 2015 target that was set by Lord Davies back in 2011.

On this target, Nicky Morgan said that she was “delighted” that the 25% target had been met but she warned that there can be no “complacency”.

Crystal Bolton, Employment Solicitor at Michael Lewin Solicitors commented “Here at Michael Lewin Solicitors we see inequality of pay through the claims that we win for our clients, and we welcome the current parliament taking a closer at this issue”. Crystal continued, “I think we need to consider any results from future reports very carefully, we may see that a company pays women well, but the report is unlikely to highlight any additional benefits like flexible working or part-time roles that they have available. It’s important that we look at pay and benefits for different genders on a whole and not in part.”

Working Mums agree, adding “We think it is important to have transparency. There are many reasons for the widening gap as women get older, including them being more likely to work reduced hours after having children, women being less likely to be promoted or less likely to seek promotion and women working in sectors which don’t attract the highest salaries so it is important to look at the detailed picture. In that way we can have a clearer idea of where progress needs to be made.”

If you believe that you are paid less than others in your workplace for the same role, get in touch with us to see if you have a claim for compensation. Our Equal Pay page has more information – call us on 0844 499 9302 email us at employ@michaellewin.co.uk or complete our short contact form.

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