Equal Pay and the Gender Pay Gap are sometimes used interchangeably, but the terms describe two different concepts that should first be considered in isolation.
Gender Pay Gap
The Gender Pay Gap is effectively the average of how much is earned by men and women. It is described by the Office of National Statistics as the “measure across all jobs in the UK, not [the] difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job”.
It has also become a legal requirement for employers that have more than 250 employees to report their organisation’s Gender Pay Gap.
Effectively, the Gender Pay Gap is about what women and men are earning across organisations; by publishing this data, it effectively considers what opportunities or hindrances one gender may have and where the wages fall across that organisation.
Currently, it is optional for employers to publish their action plans on how they plan to reduce their Gender Pay Gap. It is worth considering whether making this a legal requirement will bring about the change that is needed.
It should also be considered that the Gender Pay Gap, by its very nature, is simply an exercise in transparency, which perhaps reflects society rather than just that organisation.
For example, it’s possible that women are more likely to work part-time or not receive as many promotions due to childcare commitments, or make the choice to remain in a lower paying role so they can spend more time with their children.
This will be reflected in the Gender Pay Gap but is not necessarily the sole responsibility of the employer.
Equal Pay is the legal requirement for employers to ensure that they pay both male and female employees, who are carrying out the same or similar roles, equally.
If an employee can prove that a person of another gender is better paid, in the same role in the same organisation, this can give rise to an Employment Tribunal claim.
Inequality may arise within an organisation due to the unconscious biases that employers deploy when hiring female employees.
For example, men may be perceived as more stable employees in comparison to females, as female employees may take time off for maternity or come back from maternity with reduced hours.
Now let’s consider the two together
So, Equal Pay is not the same as the Gender Pay Gap, and vice versa. One brings transparency through the mandated publication of data and the other is a legal requirement that demands parity between genders.
It is a common misconception that if there is a legal requirement for employers to pay equally that is consistently followed, then there should be no Gender Pay Gap.
But it is important to remember that where there is no workplace diversity and men are predominantly in higher-paid positions and women are in more junior roles, that gap in earnings will remain.
Whether you are an employer considering your approach to the Gender Pay Gap or an employee being paid unfairly, we can help. Get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at which the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any actions. Please contact us if you have any questions on email@example.com.
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