Gender pay gap figures oversimplified, warns ONS

The government should not use a single statistic to try to explain the complex gender pay gap, an official report has said.

The Presenting gender pay statistics report by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) said the government should use three statistics: full-time workers median pay, part-time workers median pay and the median pay of all employees.

The report said: “The review finds that there is not available a single measure which adequately deals with the complex issue of measuring the differences in men’s and women’s pay.

“Given the composition of today’s labour market and the complexity of this subject, there is a need to present a set of measures to reflect these differences.”

The ONS found that the gap for all employees – which is used by the government when talking about the gender pay gap – was 22.5%, but the gap among part-time workers was -3.5%, with women being paid more than their male counterparts. The median pay gap for full-time workers was 12.8%.

The report could have implications for the government’s Equality Bill which is going through the House of Commons.

The Bill will encourage employers to report their gender pay gaps and employers will be forced to do this after 2013 if insufficient progress has been made voluntarily.

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