November 10th 2016 marks “Equal Pay Day” – after this date women in the UK are effectively working for free for the remainder of the year as a result of earning less on average than men.
Despite the advent of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, almost half a century later we are making slow progress on achieving wage parity between women and men. A study compiled by Hired called: “Women, work and the state of inequality” found that women in the technology sector in the UK are paid an average of 9% less than their male colleagues. Further analysis by Deloitte found that although the gender pay gap is closing incrementally we cannot expect the pay gap to be eradicated until 2069.
Why is there still a pay gap? There is no single cause, however factors include the fact that women are underrepresented in STEM (science, technology, engineering or mathematics) jobs which means that men dominate the best paid positions. In 2015, only 5 Chief Execs in the FTSE 100 were women and women make up only 9.7% of Executive Directors in the FTSE 100. Looking across the whole workplace, women hold 67% of the management workforce in entry-level roles, but only 43% of senior managers and 29% of directors. This indicates that it will be some time yet before those junior roles progress to more senior positions.
At the bottom end of the pay scale, women make up over 60% of those earning less than the living wage set by the Living Wage Foundation. Furthermore, given the fact that women historically are principal caregivers for children this means that more women work in part time roles which are typically low paid with little or no career progression.
So how can businesses help address this imbalance? Perhaps the most positive action business owners can take is to provide more support for women returning to work after maternity leave and/or career breaks. Without this support, businesses face a significant loss of talent and experience which has to be replaced at a cost, and women themselves face a stalling in their careers (both financially and in career progression) which may take years to recover from.
If you are a business owner who believes your company may benefit from specialist equal pay advice, please do not hesitate to contact us at Backhouse Solicitors. Likewise, if you are an individual who believes you are being paid less than a colleague of the opposite sex for doing the same job or a job of equal value please contact us for assistance. Our specialist employment solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with equal pay matters and we offer a free half hour consultation for any potential clients who would like to find out more.
The Backhouse Solicitors Team