Mind the gap – gender pay inequality continues

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Fewer than half of the UK's biggest employers have reduced their pay gap between male and female employees.

In fact, according to the latest figures, the disparity increased in favour of men across 45% of firms, and there was no change to the pay gap in a further 7% of organisations. Overall, 78% of the 10,428 companies that reported data had a pay gap in favour of men, whilst only 14% favoured women.

Confirming the lack of progress in this regard, the median pay gap has only closed marginally from 9.7% to 9.6% in the last 12 months. The median figure is calculated by comparing the difference in pay between middle-ranking employees of both genders working in the same companies.

The pay gap between male and female employees is more than 20% in a quarter of the companies and public sector bodies that reported. According to the Office of National Statistics, the national average pay gap for full- and part-time workers is 17.9%.

All companies, charities and public sector departments of 250 employees or more must publish gender pay gap information. It’s unclear how many firms have failed to meet the deadline for gender pay gap reporting, as no definitive list exists of companies required by law to file figures. The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said it will take enforcement action against all firms that miss the deadline.

However, organisations campaigning for gender pay equality claim the regulations aren’t tough enough and have called on employers to set action plans on reducing and monitoring the closure of pay gaps. It is argued that taking such an approach will help to explain why pay gaps still exist and  make clear the strategies that firms are adopting to tackle inequality in the workplace.