A new EU law which requires all larger firms to publish details of their gender pay gap comes into force in April 2018, and some firms have already started sharing their data.
The gender pay gap – the difference between the average earnings of male and female workers, has long been a marker for gender equality, and equality groups are speaking out against huge pay gaps within high-profile companies. The gender pay gap highlights the representation of women throughout the entire organisation and is separate from equal pay/pay equality which describes different pay scales for the same or similar job roles.
The gap between men and women in the UK currently stands at 18.6%.
Firms with 250 or more workers must publish their figures by April. Over 500 firms have already made their figures available, and while some showed that improvement is necessary (EasyJet and Virgin Money published pay gaps of 51.7% and 32.5% respectively), there has been some good news; with the British Museum and the UK Armed Forces publishing gender pay gaps of 0% and only 0.9%.
Employers could face serious damage to their reputations if they are not seen as equal opportunities employers, as the BBC recently found out. But some firms have defended their figures, due to the nature of their business. Phase Eight, a clothing retailer, said that their 64.8% lower rate for women did not reflect the “true story” of the business, since their male employees work predominately in the head office, rather than on the shop floor. Companies are also not required to publish part-time work information, despite the large number of women in part-time employment.
The legislation which was first announced during the Coalition government in 2010, has been criticised as not doing enough to tackle discrimination. But despite this criticism, the new legislation is certainly a step in the right direction.
The Equality and Human Rights commission has warned that businesses failing to comply with the requirements could face unlimited fines and convictions.