Despite legislation being introduced 50 years ago to ensure that men and women were paid the same for doing equal work, there is still a 13% gap between men and women’s hourly pay.
In fact, current statistics show that even in female dominated industries such as teaching and cleaning, women are still being paid 23% less than their male counterparts.
For many, it is almost inconceivable that such blatant discrimination is still occurring in 2019, but the statistics, and indeed recent headlines, paint a very different story. Just this month presenter Samira Ahmed brought an equal pay claim against the BBC seeking almost £700,000, the difference in salary she had received when compared to Jeremy Vine. The Employment Tribunal has yet to announce its judgment.
At present there is an obligation of businesses with over 250 employees to report their gender pay gap, with the possibility of this being extended to smaller businesses in the future. Yet, there are no penalties for those businesses who chose to pay men and women unequally, even when their gender pay gap reveals it.
Instead, real change is dependent on employees bringing equal pay claims in an Employment Tribunal, which, understandably, many women are unwilling to do for fear of losing their job or damaging their reputation.
Recent research from the Fawcett Society found that 60% of women in workplaces across the UK either believe that they are paid less than their male counterparts for doing the same job, or do not know what they are paid.
They suggest that another way of tackling equal pay issues is to ban pay secrecy and require employers to openly publish employee pay so there can be no confusion about who is paid what, and to force organisations to address any differences in the pay of men and women.
With a general election fast approaching and the Labour party pledging to close the gender pay gap by 2030, it is clear that this will remain a key issue until the next Equal Pay Day in 2020.
For more information on equal pay issues, please contact a member of the Employment Team on 0345 646 0406 or fill in our online enquiry form.