Government announces consultation to close gender pay gap

The battle for equal pay has been a long and arduous process, and one that is still very much ongoing in terms of securing equality for women.

Victoria Mitchell sqVictoria Mitchell, head of employment at Farleys Solicitors.

Last week the first real signs of progress was instigated as the Government has announced plans that will force large firms and companies to publicly publish the wage of their employees, highlighting the difference in pay between genders.

The government has confirmed that it will legislate under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 that companies with more than 250 employees will be legally required to publish company information relating to the rates of pay received by both men and women under their employment.

It is hoped the enforcement of pay transparency will encourage firms to increase the rate of women’s wages with the aim of eliminating the gender pay gap within a generation. Despite the gender pay gap being at its lowest since the Office for National Statistics began in 1997 there is still significant progress to be made in terms of gender equality within the workplace.

Whilst David Cameron argues that the publishing of earnings will “cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change driving women’s wages up”, the Confederation of British Industry believe that it could be potentially misleading.

Their argument is that it is in fact the lack of female stereotypes which prevent women from pursuing top tier careers causing the fundamental pay gap we have today.

As it stands women earn 80p in comparison to every £1 earned by a man. The gender gap also goes beyond basic rates of pay, persisting in levels of bonuses. Data collated by salary benchmarking organisation Emolument revealed that men receive almost twice as much in bonuses as women.

The consultation into the gender pay gap is due to close on 6 September 2015, with the regulations anticipated to be formally announced early in 2016. As of yet the full details of the legislation have yet to be finalised regarding the how much additional information employers will be required to provide and the frequency of which. Where statistics do reveal a gender pay gap inherent within a company’s structural culture the employer may be required to provide an explanation along with a plan of action to target the issue.

For employers set to be affected, conducting a review into your current payment structures will allow you to evaluate where your company falls in terms of the gender pay gap. Workplace equality goes beyond the payment of staff and includes the treatment of employees and also the opportunities afforded to workers. Creating a workplace environment in which both women and men feel valued for their contribution is essential in tackling the various issues that stem from workplace and gender inequality.