One-third of private-sector employers have carried out an equal pay review

Gender equality

Despite years of campaigns designed to persuade firms to carry out an equal pay review, only one-third of private-sector employers have done so, according to new research.

XpertHR found that one private-sector employer in three (32%) has carried out, or is in the process of carrying out, an equal pay audit or review. This compared with 77% of public-sector organisations.

The figure for the private sector was up from a quarter (24%) recorded in 2008’s XpertHR research, however. Overall the findings show that:

  • 41% of organisations (both public and private) had carried out, or were in the process of carrying out, an equal pay audit and the majority of these had done this more than once; and
  • 35% said that they have plans to carry out a review in the future or have carried out some checks for equal pay.

Sarah Welfare, HR practice editor at XpertHR, said: “This is the first major survey of employers on equal pay audits for some time. It shows that many firms continue to believe that the gender pay gap is simply not an issue at their organisation but have not checked their pay systems to make sure.

“More positively, carrying out an equal pay review looks to have become slightly more common in the private sector and is now standard HR practice in the public sector.”

When those employers that had not undertaken an equal pay review were asked what change, if any, would lead to their organisation carrying one out, the most common responses were “equal pay claims against my organisation” (40%) and “none, my organisation would be unlikely to carry out an equal pay review under any circumstances” (30%).

Despite this, 82% of all employers agreed with the statement that: “carrying out an equal pay review is a worthwhile exercise”.

The main reasons cited for carrying out an equal pay audit were: to be a good employer (77%); to avoid potential tribunal cases (57%); and to improve transparency (49%). Just one organisation cited the Government’s Think, Act, Report campaign as a reason.

For those employers that did not plan to carry out an equal pay audit, the main reasons were that unequal pay was not perceived to be a problem (64%) and that the issue was not a priority for senior management (57%) or HR (40%) at their organisation.

On the issue of transparency around pay, findings showed that most employers that have done an equal pay audit are unwilling to publish what they find. Of the 53 employers carrying out a review, more than four in 10 (43%) said that no information was shared even with the employees whose pay and conditions came within the scope of the review. Just three organisations published the results of their equal pay audit externally.

XpertHR surveyed 129 organisations, employing almost half a million people.

Equal pay: 2013 XpertHR survey.

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