The gender pay gap: are we the last generation?

Thursday February 2, 2017

Hitting the headlines yesterday was equality’s old arch-enemy: the gender pay gap. A lasting legacy of a society that more often than not paid a man more money for the same job as a woman. Still today, 45 years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, women are paid on average 80p for every £1 that men earn. How unfair is that?! “Very”, we hear you say. Hence why the government has announced its own plan of action this week to end the gender pay gap within a generation.

But before we reveal to you Cameron’s new ambitious plans, let’s take a look at why a gender pay gap exists in the first place. It’s not that employers are just paying woman less for the same jobs, it’s a little more complicated than that.  It’s thought that differences in professions play a large role, with men taking a majority share of higher paid positions; still now there are all male board-rooms! This isn’t down to a lack of female talent, on the contrary: “the UK economy is currently missing out on the talents of too many woman” according to Lib Dem Jo Swinson.

So what’s the plan of action? And how will it affect businesses across the country, both big and small?

Firstly, the government are picking back up the ‘name and shame’ approach that was so effective in enforcing National Minimum Wage legislation – by publicly embarrassing the culprits. This time round the government are going ahead with plans to force firms with 250+ staff to disclose their average pay statistics across genders. Those found neglecting the Equal Pay Act may have to spend some time in the modern equivalent of the stockade when these powers come into force at the end of 2016! SMEs take note, the government’s hard-line approach may be directed towards smaller businesses down the line.

Secondly, the Prime Minister is keen to stress that the new Living Wage announcements in the Budget will also benefit the pay packages of many women, who’re statistically in lower paid jobs. You can read more about the updates from the budget here, and make sure you get in touch with HR Dept Payroll for advice and assistance.

Regardless of intervention from the powers that be, businesses have for years now recognised the benefits of a diverse workforce, the boardrooms of Britain are also taking note, as the government recently announced that they’ve achieved their target of getting 25% female representation on the boards of the FTSE 100.

So are we the last generation to witness the gender pay gap? The HR Dept certainly hopes so. Don’t forget to give The HR Dept a call when reviewing how you pay your staff.

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