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EqualPayPortalBlogSpot is run by equal pay expert Sheila Wild

30 January 2017

Fawcett Review of Sex Discrimination and Equal Pay laws

The Fawcett Society has today launched a major review of the UK’s sex discrimination laws in response to the risk that long-established rights could be eroded or weakened as a result of Brexit and the UK leaving the EU single market. 
The review will also consider the effectiveness of the current laws and how best to balance the rights of the individual with the responsibilities of the organisation.
The review will be headed by Dame Laura Cox DBE a retired High Court Justice and co-ordinated by equality law expert Gay Moon. Panel members include a number of leading QCs and equality law experts. The review is set to last for approximately 9 months and will report in the autumn.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society said
“The Prime Minister has made the welcome commitment that she wants the UK to be a fairer place, that she will not only protect workers’ rights but build on them. We share that goal. We have an ambitious vision, to make the UK the best place to be a woman.”
“But to achieve that we need to create a legislative framework fit for the 21st century. One that genuinely protects the rights of the individual – rights that they can exercise by giving them access to justice – and promotes equality.
“The PM has also made clear that if necessary she will take the UK down a low tax low regulation path. That can only mean us turning the clock back on women’s rights and we cannot allow that to happen.”
The Review will consider the effectiveness of the law to date in addressing gender inequality, including access to justice. It will also identify gaps in protections for women and recommend how those gaps could be addressed. 
Well done Fawcett, but - why do we have an Equality and Human Rights Commission? Surely a review of the legislation falls fairly and squarely within the remit of the Commission? 
Find out more about the Sex Discrimination Law Review and how you can submit evidence here.

Acas/GEO guidance published

Acas and the Government Equalities Office have launched guidance to help larger businesses abide by new gender pay gap regulations, which come into force in April. The guidance applies only to the private and voluntary sectors. It is not clear whether there will also be guidance for the public sector – which already has existing obligations on equality reporting – nor is it clear whether the guide amounts to ‘statutory guidance’. Having asked for clarification and received no reply, my own view is that there will be no additional statutory guidance, a view formed mainly on the basis that the regulations are in themselves unusually detailed.

As regular readers will know, the new law requires large companies to take a salary snapshot of male and female employees and report on gender pay gaps within their organisations. The regulations apply to an estimated 8,000 businesses and voluntary and charitable organisations in Great Britain with more than 250 employees and will allow both employers and employees to see differences in average salaries for men and women in their workplaces. It will affect more than 11 million employees across the UK.

Acas Chief Executive Anne Sharp says that the guidance provides businesses with practical advice on how to carry out the calculations and on family friendly working to reduce the gap.

The guidance shows employers how to calculate the gender pay gap, including:
  • how to correctly count the number of employees for the gender pay gap calculations
  • how and where a business must publish the data from the gender pay gap
  • the penalties if businesses don't comply
The deliberate mistake here is that of course there are no penalties. The initiative is designed to be self-regulatory, and relies upon public access to the data to ensure that employers are held to account. That’s not to say it won’t work.  The public thirst for information on pay is likely to prove a strong driver for change, and employers may find themselves under scrutiny, not only from their employees, but also from their customers and service-users.
For more detail go to Gender Pay Gap Reporting

24 January 2017

Girls being given less financial independence than boys

Girls are still getting less than pocket money than boys, with boys receiving 20 per cent more than girls, according to the latest monitoring report from market research agency Childwise. 

The Childwise report is based on online surveys with 2000 schoolchildren and reveals not only the inequality between boys and girls in terms of hard cash, but also, and I think, more worryingly, the different messages parents give their sons and daughters about handling money.

Whereas boys aged five to 16 get an average of £10.70 a week from either pocket money, payment for chores, or paid work, girls of the same age get just £8.50 and the gap widens as the children get older.

Childwise found that between the ages of 11 and 16 the gap grows to 30 per cent, with boys receiving an average weekly income of £17.80 and girls of the same age lagging behind with £12.50.

Not only do girls get less money, they are also less likely to receive regular payments than boys, and are more dependent on others to both buy things for them and to manage money on their behalf. In short, they are given less financial independence.

And I, for one, don't understand why. 

My mother wasn't a particularly emancipated woman, but she always made sure she had her own money, and autonomy over the way in which she spent it, and she brought me up to appreciate the importance of a woman having some financial independence. When, in the 1970's I was a stay-at-home mum (no childcare back then!), she gave me a small monthly allowance which she stressed was to be spent upon me, and not upon either the children or the house. I used it to finance the Open University degree which provided me with a solid foundation for a well-paid career. 

My father too discussed his financial arrangements with me from an early age, a practice which not only ensured I understood the importance of making proper provision for a pension, but also stood us in good stead in his later years, when it became necessary for me to become more involved in his finances. 

So, this disparity in pocket money isn't just about the gender pay gap, important though that is. There are all sorts of reasons for ensuring that girls, as well as boys, know how to handle money.

And yet, fifty years on from my childhood experiences, we find that parents of girls are more likely to keep hold of their daughters' money, then hand it over when it is required.

As Childwise's research manager, Jenny Ehren, has said:

"The data points towards an early imbalance in the way parents educate their children about money matters and financial independence. Children pick up gender clues all around them, some subtle, and some not so subtle. The challenge for parents is to avoid inadvertently perpetuating these gender divisions themselves, and to help children learn the skills to be a confident and independent adult."

You can purchase the Childwise Monitor report here - but not for pocket money; it costs £1800. 

22 January 2017

Public sector gender pay gap reporting regulations published

The draft Regulations requiring public-sector employers to report on their gender pay gap were published on the 20th January 2017.

The requirements for the public sector largely mirror those for the private sector, but two key differences are that the public-sector requirements are being introduced as part of the existing public-sector equality duty, rather than as a stand-alone requirement, and that the annual “snapshot” date on which the pay information is collected is 31st  March for public sector employers, as compared to 5th  April for private and voluntary sector employers.

Employers have 12 months from the snapshot date in which to publish the pay information. This means that public-sector employers must publish their first figures by 30 March 2018.
The information will have to be published on the public authority’s website and provided on a Government site which is currently under development.
While the aim is to make the reporting requirements consistent across the public and private sectors, the public sector already has specific duties on equality, which the Regulations have to reflect.  There are also differences between the public sector equality duties in Wales and Scotland as compared to England, and it remains to be seen how these differences will work out in practice.
Scotland has already said it will require all public authorities with more than 20 employees to publish their pay gap every two years and an equal pay statement every four years.
The Regulations for both the public and private sectors now require parliamentary approval.

Gender pay gap in marketing widens

One of the welcome side-effects of the introduction of gender pay gap reporting is that annual salary surveys are now including and publicly reporting on the gender pay gap in the sectors being surveyed.

In the latest of these, Marketing Week’s annual Career and Salary Survey reveals pay parity between men and women is getting worse rather than better, with the pay gap between male and female marketers having widened from 20.8 per cent in 2016 to 22.4 per cent in 2017.

The survey shows women are paid less than men in every marketing role, except the most junior assistant positions. Women in partner or business owner roles see the biggest pay gap, earning an average of £49,524, 53 per cent less than men, who take home £75,729 a year.
A female senior marketing executive typically earns 34 per cent less than a male (£31,343 versus £41,957), while a senior female marketing manager takes home 12 per cent less (£52,941 versus £59,549).

The only role in marketing where women earn more than men – 7 per cent more – is assistant (£21,397 versus £19,815).

The survey also found – and this is the kind of information that ought to make companies sit up and take notice – that 63.2 per cent of women would consider a change of job for better financial remuneration, especially as receiving fair financial reward is important to 98.1 per cent of female marketers. Yet less than half (49.6 per cent) of women questioned believe their company is recompensing them fairly financially. This last figure suggests a bleed through from the gender pay gap into the arena of unequal pay.

Marketing Week also features a link to a nifty salary calculator which will tell you if you’re being paid what you’re worth, and gives you a list of better paid vacancies. Time to walk with your feet?

18 January 2017

MoJ discriminates against judges

The Employment Tribunal has upheld the claims of over 200 judges for unlawful age, race and sex discrimination and equal pay against the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice in relation to changes made to their pension entitlements.  

The Tribunal held that the Lord Chancellor and the Ministry of Justice had discriminated against younger judges, a significant number of whom were female and/or from minority ethnic groups, by requiring them to leave the Judicial Pension Scheme in April 2015, whilst allowing older judges to remain in that Scheme, and that this discrimination could not be justified. 

The Tribunal found that the changes caused younger judges to suffer a disproportionate loss to their pensions purely because they were younger. 

You can find the Tribunal decision here.

The legal team were Shubha Banerjee and Chris Benson from Leigh Day and Andrew Short QC and Naomi Ling from Outer Temple Chambers. 
Shubha Banerjee said:

This is a great victory for our clients, many of whom sit alongside older judges who were appointed some years after them but who are, in effect, paid more purely because they are older.

“The fact that there is a significant number of female and BME judges in the younger group simply compounds the unfairness of the changes that were made to judicial pensions.

”According to Judicial Office Statistics, about one third of all judges in England and Wales last year were female, and only 7 per cent described themselves as from a black or other minority ethnic background.”

While the decision could have ramifications for other public sector groups, such as police officers, teachers, firefighters and prison officers, who have been subjected to similar negative changes to their pensions, the key lesson to be learned from this decision, is the necessity to carry out  a thorough equality impact assessment - and to act upon its findings - before making major structural changes to any reward system, including that realting to pensions. 

16 January 2017

Fathers and the workplace

The Women and Equalities Committee has launched an inquiry as new research from Working Families reveals that many fathers do not feel supported in the workplace to care for their children.

The inquiry follows on from the Committee's report on the Gender Pay Gap in March 2016 which found that:

  • Sharing care between fathers and mothers is the key to reducing the Gender Pay Gap
  • Many fathers want to fulfil their caring responsibilities for their children
  • The Government’s flagship policy of Shared Parental Leave, introduced in 2015, is likely to have little impact, with a predicted take-up rate of just 2-8 per cent.
Committee Chair, Maria Miller MP, says:
Supporting parents in the workplace is a priority for the government. Yet it admits that its flagship Shared Parental Leave policy is likely to have a very low take-up rate.
“Following our work on the gender pay gap, the Women and Equalities Committee is now asking whether fathers are being failed in the workplace. Clearly more needs to be done. We are keen to hear views from individuals as well as organisations about the changes which they would like to see. Many fathers want to take a more active role in caring for their children.”
The inquiry is seeking evidence on the following issues:
  • How well do fathers feel their current working arrangements help them to fulfil their caring responsibilities for children of all ages?
  • Are there employment-related barriers to fathers sharing caring roles more equally?
  • Do fathers have the financial support to enable them to fulfil their caring responsibilities?
  • Are there social or attitudinal barriers to fathers in the workplace which need to be challenged?
  • Are there changes to the workplace – such as an increase in freelance, agency or casual working – which might have an impact on fathers? Are there challenges for fathers working in particular employment sectors?
  • What role can Government, employers and other stakeholders play in overcoming these barriers? What policy or legislative changes would be most effective in supporting fathers to fulfil their caring responsibilities?
  • Are there specific issues facing fathers from particular groups or backgrounds, for example because of their income or ethnicity, or fathers of disabled children and young people?
  • Are there examples (in the UK or internationally) of best practice amongst employers that could be taken up more widely?

To submit evidence to the inquiry, follow this link. The committee is accepting written submissions until March 1, 2017.

13 January 2017

Inequality for men on the rise

A widely publicised report from the IFS shows a dramatic rise in the proportion of men working in low-paid part-time work.

The paper is actually much more extensive than the media coverage has suggested and looks back at changes in income inequality in Great Britain over the past 20 years, with a particular focus on explaining why – contrary to popular perception – income inequality over most of the distribution has actually declined over this period. The  report's focus is on inequality in household incomes, net of taxes and inclusive of benefits and tax credits, and explains trends in inequality by breaking this down into the effect of changes in hourly pay and hours worked of men and women, the tax and benefit system, and the incomes of pensioners.

Weekly pay for men has become more unequal for two reasons: hourly pay has become more unequal, and low-paid men are working fewer hours per week. Low paid men have seen relatively slow growth in hourly pay, and this has been compounded by them also experiencing the largest falls in their number of hours worked. This combination has resulted in a substantial increase in weekly pay inequality between men.

The report shows that twenty years ago it was rare for men to work part-time (fewer than 30 hours per week). Whilst part-time working remains very rare for middle and high wage men, about one in four male employees with low hourly wages now works part-time. Men in this group work on average five fewer hours per week than they did 20 years ago. This is not simply an effect of the recession: it has been a consistent trend over the past 20 years. 

Looking more closely at these changing patterns of hours worked for men, the increase in part-time work among those on low wages has not been driven simply by the youngest or oldest workers: it has happened among prime-age men too. It has also occurred for both single men and those with partners, and men with and without dependent children. As well as the rise in part-time work, there has also been a steady decline in the proportion of low-paid men working full-time for very long hours.

Conversely, inequality in weekly pay for women has fallen. Hourly pay for women has grown at a similar rate across the distribution over the past 20 years. But patterns in hours worked have acted to reduce inequality in weekly pay for women. There is much less variability in the hours worked by female employees than there used to be, and those with low hourly pay in particular are more likely to be working full-time. As a result, between 1994/95 and 2014/15 female weekly pay rose by 60 per cent at the 10th percentile compared to only 29 per cent at the 90th percentile.

You can read the full report here.

Given the efforts over the past thirty years or so that have gone into reducing inequality for women, it is hardly surprising that inequality in weekly pay for women has fallen.  The fact that inequality among men is now increasing, and that the source of that increase is – just as it once was for women – part-time work, speaks volumes about the UK’s attitude to part-time work. Why is the UK economy so reliant on part-time work, and why does such work provide people with only low-skilled and low-paid employment? This isn’t about either women or men, it’s about employers.  

12 January 2017

Berlin introduces gender pay gap reporting

The German government has backed a Bill to make salaries more transparent for employees, aimed at closing the gender pay gap.

The Bill would allow employees working for companies employing more than 200 people to see what their colleagues in equivalent positions were earning. In addition, businesses with over 500 workers would need to publish regular updates on their salary structure and show that they were complying with equal pay rules.

On an average, men in Germany earn 21 percent more than women, compared to the EU average of 16.5 percent , according to 2015 statistics. Even after taking into account that more women work part-time or in low-paid jobs, the gap for men and women with equal qualifications remains at 7 percent, according to official sources.

The move is contentious, with some seeing it as necessary to get employers to take action to close the gender pay gap, and others seeing it as both unduly bureaucratic and as fostering employee discontent – presumably those who oppose the Bill are happy to overlook any discontent currently felt on the part of women unhappy at the existence of a gender pay gap.

A similar move on gender pay gap reporting in the UK has been broadly welcomed by business groups, who are in favour of the self-regulatory approach taken by the initiative.

6 January 2017

Scottish Parliament to examine gender pay gap

The Scottish Parliament's Economy, Jobs and Fair Work Committee has issued a call for evidence ahead of an inquiry into the gender pay gap in Scotland.
The group of MSPs will examine the gender profile of the public and private sector in Scotland and its impact on equal pay, and has called for evidence from businesses and academics.
The Scottish Parliament inquiry will focus on business performance, the Scottish public sector and Scottish Government action required to address the issue.
You can read the inquiry’s terms of reference and how to submit evidence here.

Submissions to the Holyrood committee should be sent before March 10, and it will report to Parliament in June 2017.

Equal pay a priority for Unison members

A survey carried out for the trade union, Unison, by Incomes Data Research, found that equal pay for work of equal value came second only to job security as a concern for the union’s members, with 97 per cent of those surveyed seeing it as a priority. 

Link this to the 13 per cent pay gap that the survey also identified, and the fact that pay and conditions generally are felt to have worsened, it’s no wonder that many women are thinking of voting with their feet.

You can read the full report here

4 January 2017

Gender pay gap: the old challenges endure

A blog post from the Resolution Foundation is attracting a lot of attention.

Laura Gardiner
Celebrating progress towards closing the gender pay gap, the Foundation’s Laura Gardiner nonetheless calls attention to the way the gap widens for women in their 30s and early 40s.

The Foundation says the key factor here is that women start having children. The pay gap widens partly because mothers take time out altogether and so lose out on labour market experience. But it’s also connected to the fact that training, progression and promotion are much harder to come by when working part time, which many women with children either choose to do or feel they have to because of high childcare costs. This increase in the gender pay gap isn’t just a short term phenomenon closely linked to childbirth either – it continues for decades. This is where the lifetime earnings penalty that women continue to face really starts to build.

And, despite a headline suggesting the gap is on the brink of being closed, the Foundation’s most recent analysis of data from the Office of National Statistics shows that the generational progress on gender pay shows signs of stalling. The pay gap at age 30 was 21 per cent for baby boomers, then halved to 10 per cent for women in generation X. For millennials age 30 it’s 9 per cent, only a touch lower. The suggestion is that the old challenges associated with having children endure for young women today. So millennial women should still expect to face a significant lifetime earnings penalty compared to their male counterparts.

While I welcome the attention being paid to the problem, and the recognition that something needs to be done about the dead-end nature of part-time work, I’d like to see some detailed research into the earnings of mothers, compared not only to those of men, but also to those of women without children. Is it actual motherhood that carries a pay penalty, or is it the expectation of motherhood? If women in their 30s and 40s who are not mothers are experiencing a pay gap, then the pay penalty isn’t down to the fact that women start having children.

You can read Gardiner’s post here.