Employers: Check Job Roles as Gender Pay Gap Persists
Managers should evaluate job roles to ensure wages are fair across their workforce, after statistics revealed women still earn on average 16 per cent less than men, Acas has warned.
Acas spoke out following the launch of the How fair is Britain? report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which revealed that the gender pay gap shrank by just one per cent through 2007-9. It also highlighted that by the time a woman is 40, the pay gap rises to 27 per cent less.
Acas head of equality Steve Williams, said that the Equality Act, in force from 1 October, could contribute to a new transparency in the workplace about pay and conditions.
“There has been fair pay law since the 1970s, but the Equality Act might now create a culture where it is more acceptable for employees to find out what their colleagues are earning,” said Williams. “Although the Act does not ban pay secrecy clauses, it does allow employees to talk about pay among themselves to find out if there is discrimination in their firm.
“Furthermore, employees can make a claim for victimisation if an employer takes action against them for discussing pay,” he added.
Williams advises managers to act promptly if an employee raises a concern about pay equality.
“Employers should carry out a job evaluation to see if staff members are being paid fairly.”
“If one person is doing the same work – or work of equal value – to a colleague who is paid more, the business should review their pay. Otherwise the firm could be at risk of a claim for sex discrimination.”
Williams explained that the pay gap at individual firms is often a result of social behaviour, such as society’s widespread expectation that women workers take time out to be a family’s main carer.
“For this reason, small businesses should ensure that promotions and pay rises are based on competence rather than experience, as women are more likely to have had time off.”
Legally, businesses must provide equal pay for men and women when they are doing equal work. As well as meaning “the same”, equal work also means broadly similar jobs, or jobs that make demands of equal value. Finally, jobs are equal if they have been rated as such under a job evaluation scheme.