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22 March 2016

Women and Equalities Committee Report on the Gender Pay Gap for Women over 40

The Committee has today published its Report into the gender pay gap for older women. While the recommendations will undoubtedly help to close the gap, they will all take time to implement and the report is clearly aimed at closing the gap for women at the younger end of the age span covered by the Committee's terms of reference; it is unlikely to achieve much for women in the 50+ age groups. 

The Report's summary reads as follows:

"The UK’s gender pay gap of 19.2% represents a significant loss to productivity. Women are better educated and better qualified than ever before, yet their skills are not being fully utilised. Women over 40 are most affected. For those aged between 50 and 59 the gender pay gap currently stands at 27.3%. Yet the Government does not have a coherent strategy to address the issues underlying this gap and ensure younger women do not encounter the same difficulties as they age.

A large part of the gender pay gap is down to women’s concentration in part-time work. Many women are trapped in low paid, part-time work that doesn’t make use of their skills. This is partly due to women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid caring, but also because many of the sectors women work in, like retail and care, offer predominantly low-paid, part-time work. Old-fashioned approaches to flexibility in the workplace and a lack of support for those wishing to re-enter the labour market are also stopping employers from making the most of women’s talent and experience.

A wealth of evidence shows that this does not need to be the case. Leading employers are recognising that workplaces need to change. Flexible working for all lies at the heart of addressing the gender pay gap. This does not mean part-time work, which we know is underpaid and limits career progression. Flexible working is much broader and includes jobs shares, late starts, early finishes, term time working and working from home. The Government recognises the value of modernising the workplace, but is still not taking the steps needed to ensure flexible working is offered to all employees, particularly those in lower paid sectors. Moving to a culture where flexibility is the norm, and employees are judged on outcomes rather than presenteeism, offers a tremendous opportunity to tackle the gender pay gap.

However, as long as women continue to take the majority of responsibility for childcare and other forms of unpaid caring, pay differentials will persist. Women pay a high price for time taken out of work, and this disadvantage persists well beyond the years they spend caring. If men and women shared care equally this would not be the case. Investing in policies that support men to share childcare, and allow women to continue working, will reap financial benefits as well as reducing the gender pay gap. The Government recognises these benefits and made it clear that it wants to support parents to share care. Unfortunately, the flagship policy in this area—shared parental leave—is predicted to make little difference to behaviour.

The Government has lofty ambitions to eliminate the pay gap in a generation. Yet we have found a lack of effective Government policy in many of the areas that contribute to the gap. Reporting regulations do not go far enough to make a real difference. Women who wish to return to work after a break are not being supported to do so—even in areas like teaching where staff shortages are well documented. Aside from increasing the National Minimum Wage, there has been no co-ordinated attempt to address the issues faced by the many women working in low paid sectors. Time after time Ministers responded to our questions by saying change would occur eventually, or through the actions of individual employers.

Eliminating the gender pay gap is too important to leave to chance. It is not enough to hope that culture changes of its own accord. Or that individual employers recognise the benefits of flexible working and attracting women returners to the workplace. Government must take a lead on these issues now.

We call on the Government to match the scope of their ambition in eliminating the gender pay gap with effective action:
  • Make all jobs flexible by default from the outset unless there is a strong and continuing business case for them not to be
  • Bring in non-transferrable leave for fathers and second parents to allow men and women to share care more equally
  • Establish industrial strategies for low paid, highly feminised sectors to improve productivity and pay levels
  • Create a National Pathways to Work scheme that will support women to return to employment after time out of the labour market
The gender pay gap is much more than an equality issue. It represents a drain on UK productivity. By implementing our recommendations the Government can truly begin to ensure employers make the most of women’s skills and experience, leading to a more competitive economy."

You can read the full report here

21 March 2016

Amazon blocks shareholder discussion of gender pay gap

I don’t often cover what happens in the US, but this is so outrageous people must be made aware of it. One wonders how Amazon UK will react to the forthcoming requirement to report on their gender pay gap. 

15 March 2016

21 per cent gender pay gap in apprenticeships

In a new report Making Apprenticeships Work for Young Women, the Young Women’s Trust finds that Britain’s apprenticeship system is reinforcing existing gender inequalities, and that in some  cases, the imbalance between men and women is worsening.

Historically more men than women took apprenticeships, largely in manual trades heavily dominated by men, but since 2010 women apprentices have outnumbered men. In 2014/15 there were 264,750 female apprentices and 235,140 male. This should be a success story, but sadly the headline figures mask the fact that many opportunities are being missed because of the persistence of occupational segregation by gender.

For example, women comprise 94 per cent of childcare apprentices but less than 4 per cent of engineering apprentices. Most worryingly, the percentage of female engineering apprentices has actually declined from 4.6 per cent in 2002 to 3.8 per cent in 2014 (the most recent year for which figures are available).

Occupational segregation in apprenticeships contributes to the fact that young women are losing out at every level:

  • Women tend to work in fewer sectors.  
  • Women receive lower pay than men; an average of £4.82 an hour compared with £5.854. Male apprentices get paid 21 per cent more per hour, leaving women potentially over £2000 worse off per year.
  • Women are less likely to receive training as part of their apprenticeship.
  • Women are more likely to be out of work at the end of their apprenticeship. 16 per cent of women said that they were out of work, compared to 6 per cent of men.
The report goes on to say that young women tend to get funnelled into a narrow range of careers that are insecure, lower paid and have fewer routes for progression; in other words, apprenticeships are currently reinforcing, rather than challenging, occupational segregation by gender.

The Trust makes a range of recommendations, under the following headings:

1. Positive action to increase diversity in apprenticeships
2. Greater emphasis on the collection and publication of data relating to apprenticeships
3. Increased pay and financial support for apprentices
4. Greater availability of part-time and flexible apprenticeships
5. A renewed focus on the advice and support given to apprentices before, during and after their apprenticeship.

The Trust believes that, if taken up, these recommendations will transform the experience of apprenticeships for young women and bring huge benefits to employers and the wider economy.

You can read the report summary here

You can read the full report here

11 March 2016

Finance sector still one of the worst for equal pay

In an interesting and wide ranging report The Level Playing Field recruitment firm Randstad finds that the finance sector is still one of the worst sectors for promoting equal pay. 

The report looks at the experiences of 2000 men and women working in the technology, financial and professional, construction, property and engineering, sales, marketing and PR, education and social care and nursing sectors, and demonstrates widely varying perceptions of the pay gap in these different industries. For example, in the finance and professional sector, 72 per cent of men believe they are paid more than women, with 18 per cent of workers believing equal pay will never be achieved. The sector's pay gap of 35 per cent lends support to these views. By contrast, in property, construction and engineering, 79 per cent of men were confident they were paid the same as women for the same role.

Randstad's survey finds that overall fewer women than men have asked for a pay rise over the past three years, and yet pay clearly matters to women as much as it does to men. The report doesn't say so, but the differences may be as much about the type of industry in which women are employed. Women's concentration in the public sector - where pay is still largely determined through centrally negotiated agreements mean that there is less need and less opportunity to ask for a pay rise. 

Ronstad's CEO, Mark Bull, says:

" Employers are working hard to promote equal pay and encourage women across all industries, but there is still work to be done.

It makes sound business sense for companies to address the issues still facing women in the workplace, including closing the gender pay gap."

8 March 2016

50 years to close the gender pay gap

Work 1

Neat visual from Fawcett showing how long it will take to close the gender pay gap.

To mark both its 150th anniversary and International Women’s Day, Fawcett has compiled some interesting statistics from its timeline on women’s rights progression, to get a snapshot of what life is like for women in the UK in 2016. The results show we certainly have come a long way from campaigning to get the vote, but there’s still so much to be done.

For more visuals, click here.

UCU names colleges and universities with largest gender pay gaps

In a new report published for International Women’s Day, UCU, the university and college highlights colleges and universities that pay female staff significantly less than men who are doing the same job.
Holding Down Women's Pay names and shames the top 30 English further education colleges with the largest gender pay gaps amongst lecturing staff. A further three league tables show the top 30 UK universities with the largest gender pay gaps amongst academic staff, professors and academic-related staff.

Key facts for Further Education

  • In 132 out of 203 colleges where data for lecturers is available, men are paid on average £1000 more than women.  
  • In over 28 colleges the gap is greater than 5 per cent.
  • In the 10 worst cases the gap is at least 8 per cent.
  • 19.1 per cent of women are being paid below what is regarded as the bottom of the national scale.
Key facts for Higher Education
  • The gender pay gap across higher education (HE) equates to a shortfall of £6,103 per year for each female academic. In total, this difference in average pay is a gender pay gap of £528 million per year. The total salary spend on female academics is £1.3 billion less than it is for male academics.
  • At 154 higher education institutions (HEIs) women are paid less than men, on average, and at only eight HEIs are women paid equal to or more than men.
  • The gap is larger at the so-called ‘elite’ Russell Group institutions (16.3 per cent).
  • While over half of all academics are women, only 23 per cent of professors are women. It is clear that women are not being promoted to the top academic posts.
  • The gender pay gap for academic-related, professional staff is smaller than for academics, and stands at 3.2 per cent.

UCU Rate for the job website

To help raise awareness of the gender pay gap, the UCU, the university and college union now provides a Rate for the Job website, where people working in Further and Higher Education can find out more about their pay. 

5 March 2016

Sophie Walker calls for pay transparency

Sophie Walker, leader of the new Women’s Equality Party, and its candidate for the London mayoral election in May, wants companies to be more transparent about the pay and opportunities that women are offered. 

Speaking in The Guardian, Walker said:

“There are two things here – there is equal pay and then the gender gap,” she says. “They are often jumbled up as one big very difficult problem that we can’t fix because its ‘Oh, it’s really hard’. But on equal pay I think it’s very simple. We should have full transparency of what is going on within Britain’s companies. 

“There is an annual report that already goes out, lets add an extra page on what is going on inside – a full breakdown of pay – what men are earning, what women are earning, what levels they are at within the company, whether they are working full-time or part-time, what the stickiness levels are before and after parental leave, break it all down by ethnicity and disability. Then you get a proper look.”

4 March 2016

Saturday 5th March, 11am – 4pm What More Can the Law do for Women?

Saturday 5th March, 11am – 4pm What More Can the Law do for Women?Doughty Street Chambers, 54 Doughty Street, London WC1N 2LS
Baroness Helena Kennedy QC, a Founder Member of Doughty Street Chambers, will chair a day of talks looking at how women are impacted by the law.  The day will identify areas for future law reform, and will inspire and inform delegates on campaigns they can mount to ensure the law better supports women.

The Women at Work session, chaired by Heather Williams QC from Doughty Street, a panel including Lady Justice Macur, Camilla Palmer QC (Hon) from YESS and Althea Brown from Doughty Street will consider some of the issues facing women in the workplace, including equal pay and what more can be done to achieve it.  

For more information, click here

A shorter session, with different speakers, will be held on Wednesday 8th March. For more information, click here

Gender pay gap in property

Neat little post from Liz Hansom at PropertyWeek.Com summarising Property Week’s 2016 salary survey (only available to members). 
According to Hansom, while the gender pay gap has shrunk from 27 per cent last year to 25.9 per cent this year, it  is still alarmingly wide and significantly bigger than the UK average of 20%.
Hansom says the industry needs to sort its act out.
We’re in 2016, people - not 1916. Women should not be paid more than a quarter less than their male counterparts. It is totally (insert preferred swear word here) unacceptable.”
Hansom continues that it’s not all doom and gloom in property. In the 46-55 age group, the pay gap has more than halved in the past year, from 28.8 per cent to 14.3 per cent, and it has also narrowed slightly in the 36-45 age group, from 23.05 per cent to 22.7per cent.  However, among 26- to 30-year-olds, it has shot up from 6.4 per cent to 17.5 per cent.

This kind of variability is worrying. What’s going on? 

2 March 2016

Women accountants still earn less than men

The gender pay gap within the accounting profession has shrunk by 3% the past year, but financial inequalities still exist between the two sexes, with male accountants earning nearly £20,000 more than female practitioners. Click here to read more.

Meanwhile, the Association of Accounting Technicians, whose research comes up with similar findings, has helpfully produced a white paper Making the finance sector add up for women, which looks at the gender pay gap in the sector in relation to current proposals on gender pay gap reporting, and comes up with the following recommendations:

"Investigate, measure, report 

While the new legislation only applies to larger organisations, firms of all sizes can benefit from analysing their current situation and putting measures in place to track their progress in improving their performance: 
  • Get the right systems in place to analyse pay information and representation at different levels by gender  
  • Obtain a clear picture of current experiences and attitudes – 
  • Analyse your pay and representation data, bearing your barriers in mind, so you can start to identify where any problems lie and tackle them front on 
  • Report back to the organisation – be honest about the current situation and communicate why changing it is important
  • Set targets for improving gender diversity and pay and commit to reviewing and reporting at regular intervals."

Women have barely half the pensions savings of men

If a reminder of the importance of closing the gender and ethnic pay gaps were needed, a new report from the TUC provides it, for according to a new TUC-sponsored report, The Under-pensioned 2016, women and BME workers have barely half the pension savings of white men on median earnings.

The study, carried out by the Pensions Policy Institute, shows that women have, on average, £7,500 in savings in defined contribution schemes, compared to £14,500 for men. And women typically have £32,000 in pension savings in defined benefit schemes, whereas men have £62,900. The report reveals large pension disadvantages for women, ethnic minority workers, carers and the self-employed.

The findings show:
  •    Women – As well as having barely half the pension savings of men, women also receive a far smaller state pension. Women receive 13 per cent (£1,092) a year less than the average state pension and 25 per cent (£2,548) a year less than men get from their state pensions.
  •     Carers – Carers typically have just £5,800 in savings in defined contribution schemes – 44.8 per cent below average. And carers have only £6,000 amassed in defined benefit schemes – a 86.2 per cent below average.
  •    BME workers – An Indian worker typically has less than half (£22,100) the defined benefit pension savings of a white worker (£45,500). Black pensioners receive 16 per cent (£1,404) less than the average for all pensioners and 20 per cent (£1,820) less than white pensioners in State Pension.
  •    Self-employed – Self-employed workers typically have 4.8 per cent less in defined contribution savings and 12.7 per cent in defined benefit savings than average pensioners.

The report says reasons for the disparities include workplace discrimination, job segregation and the lack of flexible working.

The disparities matter because:

  • They indicate a danger of living in absolute poverty.
  • However, those with incomes at or just above the poverty line may not necessarily have sufficient income to meet a personal adequacy target or achieve an acceptable standard of living which includes “having what you need in order to have the opportunities and choices necessary to participate in society”. 
  • Having lower than average income and lower relative spending power than one’s peers is associated with health and social problems.
  • Having a relatively low income in retirement can be the result of life-long disadvantage extending beyond working age and can therefore indicate particular vulnerabilities and the need for support and social policy intervention.