Closing the gap on equal pay

The right to ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ has been enshrined in law since 1970, but the gender pay gap is still headline news nearly 50 years later.

By 4 April 2018, businesses with 250 or more employees had to report their gender pay gap as of 5 April 2017, showing­ the difference in mean and median hourly earnings and bonus payments. The gender pay gap has narrowed, but it is currently 9.7% based on median pay for full-time workers, increasing to 18.4% when part-time employees are included.

Recent high-profile examples include a pay gap of 28.6% at Channel 4; the BBC paying John McEnroe ten times more than Martina Navratilova; and the Queen being paid less than Prince Philip on the TV show ‘The Crown’. And that's just in the media.

Gender inequality can lead to low staff morale, poor employee retention rates and litigation. Tesco, for example, is facing a £4 billion claim for back pay from thousands of its female workers.

At issue is whether different jobs are comparable – are shop floor jobs, such as check-out and shelf stacking, which are mainly done by female workers, of equal value to higher-paid jobs in male-dominated distribution centres?

Best practice

In the future, gender pay gap reporting could be extended to smaller organisations. It is worth reviewing practices, however large or small you are as an employer. Most employees appreciate transparency in pay and both the government and ACAS believe this will narrow the gender gap. It might be worth publishing your organisation’s gender gap even if it is below the 250 employee threshold.

Obvious areas to review include recruitment, training and promotion to discern whether there are any biases in selection.