Employers ignore calls for equal pay for women

The
majority of employers have no plans to check they pay women fairly, despite the
fact that the gap between women’s and men’s average pay has hardly closed in
recent years, a new report shows.

The
research, carried out for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) by the
Institute for Employment Studies, also reveals that secrecy about pay is still
widespread. More than a fifth of employers (22 per cent) do not allow employees
to share information about their pay with colleagues.

The
gap between women’s and men’s average full-time pay is still 19 per cent per hour.
Women who work part-time earn 41 per cent less per hour than men who work
full-time – the same gap as 25 years ago.

Commenting
on the findings, Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, warned that complacency and
secrecy were threatening to halt progress on equal pay and urged all employers
to review their pay systems for bias.

Two
years ago one of the EOC Equal Pay Taskforce’s key recommendations was that all
employers should review their pay systems to check they were not biased against
women. That call was backed by the Government.

However,
the research – published today at the EOC’s Equal Pay Conference – reveals that
only 18 per cent of large employers and 10 per cent of medium-sized employers
have actually done a pay review or are in the process of doing one. The
majority (54 per cent of large and 67 per cent of medium-sized employers) do
not plan to do a pay review at all.

Mellor
added: "The level of complacency and secrecy this research has uncovered
is staggering. Employers have a crucial role to play in tackling unequal pay.
Although some have accepted that responsibility willingly, many others still
don’t seem to have got the message."

Patricia
Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry and minister for women, said:
"This research reveals a depressing snapshot that shows too many
workplaces are still stacked against women fulfilling their true earning
potential. But it also makes me more determined to keep on working with the
EOC, employers and unions to close the pay gap.

"Businesses
should not be afraid of pay audits, because treating – and paying – men and
women equally can only improve a company’s performance in the long run."

By Quentin Reade

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