Employers taking part in a government pilot will list salary details on job adverts and stop asking candidates about salary history, in a bid to tackle pay inequality.
The pilot, announced by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) on International Women’s Day today, seeks to improve pay transparency, with the government claiming that listing a salary range on a job advert provides a firm footing for women to negotiate pay.
A Glassdoor survey found salary was the most important factor of a job advert for 68% of jobseekers, showing that it makes business sense to share salary details at the beginning of the application process if they want to attract talent.
Additionally, the Fawcett Society found 58% of women felt they had received a lower salary offer than they would have if they had not been asked about their pay history during the recruitment process.
“The UK can only grasp its full potential by championing its brightest and best, and ensuring everyone, regardless of their background, has the opportunity to succeed,” said minister for women, Baroness Stedman-Scott.
“We believe that increased pay transparency will build on positive evidence of the role information can play when it comes to empowering women in the workplace.
“It is essential that we keep women at the forefront of the levelling-up agenda as we recover from the pandemic and rebuild together.”
The GEO recognised that not all employers would be able to disclose salary bands on job adverts, particularly where they don’t have agreed pay scales and have historic pay agreements.
It will work with employers to develop and pilot a methodology which others can adopt, so that all organisations can provide pay information at the recruitment stage and remove their reliance on questions about pay history if they choose.
The announcement follows a government-funded trial with job site Indeed, which found that prompting employers to advertise jobs as flexible led to a 20% increase in flexible roles. Adverts offering flexible working attracted up to 30% more applicants.
CIPD senior policy adviser for performance and reward, Charles Cotton, said: “Whenever possible, the CIPD recommends that not only should employers advertise salaries in job adverts, but also give information on the pension scheme and other core benefits. Doing so will help set pay expectations among job applicants as well as reducing the risk of unfair pay gaps in the workforce.
“We are also pleased that the government is calling on employers to stop asking about previous salary during recruitment. If wages are influenced by what an individual has earned with their last employer, then unfair pay gaps can be created. If people know that they’re going to be rewarded fairly, this will help the organisation attract the right talent and motivate them to do their best.”
If wages are influenced by what an individual has earned with their last employer, then unfair pay gaps can be created.” – Charles Cotton, CIPD
Fawcett Society chief executive Jemima Olchawski said: “Asking salary history questions keeps women on lower salaries and contributes to the UK’s gender pay gap – and can mean that past pay discrimination follows women and other groups throughout their career.
“Evidence from US states which have banned asking about past salary shows that is a simple, evidence-led way to improve pay equality for women, people of colour and disabled people. This is an important first step.”
The government has also announced a returners programme to help women back into science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) careers after taking time out to care for family members – a duty that is disproportionally carried out by women.
The GEO said the scheme, which will run for a minimum of two years, will help organisations to recruit and retain talented staff who are often overlooked because of a gap on their CV, by providing training, development and employment support.
The 2021 STEM Returners index survey revealed that 61% of returners found the process of returning to the industry difficult or very difficult. Those who did return commented found they were overqualified for their role and had entered at levels below where they were prior to their break.
Baroness Stedman-Scott said: “Our second announcement, supporting skilled women to return to STEM careers after care leave, will keep talented minds in STEM and improve the representation of women and marginalised communities in those incredibly important roles.”
The government has also signed a treaty to eradicate workplace violence and harassment, including gender-based harassment.
Yesterday (7 March) the UK became the 11th nation to ratify the International Labour Organisation’s Violence and Harassment Convention.
As announced previously, it intends to introduce a new duty on employers to take steps to prevent employees from experiencing sexual harassment, and introduce explicit protections for employees from harassment by third parties, such as customers and clients.
Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “We already have some of the strongest laws in the world to protect employees and ratifying this convention takes us one step further to eradicating violence and harassment in the workplace.
“I hope that by the UK and others taking this step, our international friends will join us in ratifying this convention and demonstrate their commitment to upholding these values.
“This government is committed to tackling all forms of violence and harassment and we will support employers to put the necessary measures in place to ensure everyone feels safe in their place of work.”