The gender pay gap, which currently stands at 14.5% in the UK, means that the average female employee earns just 85.5p for every £1 that her male counterpart worker earns.

When spread out across the whole year, this difference in pay effectively means that women ‘stop’ getting paid earlier in the year when compared to men. The date when this crossover takes places is known as the “Equal Pay Day”, which occurred on 9th November this year.

Last year it was marginally earlier on 4th November, which shows that the gap is slowly declining, however, there is no doubt that this pace really isn’t fast enough in today’s climate – at the current rate of progress it would take 50 years to close the gap!

The Gender Pay Gap is reaching our headlines again at a time when the Suffragette film has just been released, highlighting how Manchester’s very own Emmeline Pankhurst fought for gender equality and the right for women to be able to vote in the UK. It has been well over 100 years since Mrs Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union and just short of 50 years since the Equal Pay Act came in – so why are we still talking about such inequality in today’s modern society?

Our latest Government have introduced a new act which forces companies with over 250 workers to disclose their statistics on the pay of their workers. Although the maximum penalty is a mere £5,000, the act is hoping to ‘name and shame’ businesses who are to fall short of equality. It is supposed to be introduced in the early part of 2016, but we’ve already seen this naming and shaming in action with Monsoon Accessorize’s image being dragged through the media mud after failing to pay £104,508 to its workers.

Do women expect to be paid less?

Since the Equal Pay Act in 1970, employees have been obliged by law to pay males and females, who are in the same job, equally.  Are employees still the problem or do women bring the problem on themselves by having lower expectations than men?

According to research from the latter argument is certainly playing a large part in this gender pay gap. After analysing 56,000 CVs of British graduates, totaljobs found that females apply for jobs with a wage that is on average £2,000 less per annum than those that males apply for, in similar disciplines. They found this true across all 16 sectors they analysed; from art and fashion to hospitality to mathematics and science.  Their research found that there was not one area in which females expected to earn more than men! This hints at more of a psychological problem rather than a problem in the attitude of an employee. It is possible that employers are taking advantage of this, helping to create a self-fulfilling prophecy. It is a rather antagonistic subject that divides opinion.

Danielle Ayres, an employment lawyer here at Gorvins Solicitors said, “There is no question that equal pay is still a massive issue in the UK.  The Fawcett Society currently stated that overall, women can expect to earn significantly less than men over their entire careers as a result of differences in caring responsibilities, clustering in low skilled and low paid work, the qualifications and skills women acquire and through outright discrimination.

Danielle continued, “It is clear that whilst the Government seem to recognise that there is an issue which needs addressing, something drastic needs to be done for a change to occur at a rate that will be beneficial. Countries such as Canada seem to be leading by example, with their new President choosing the country’s first Cabinet with equal numbers of men and women. Unfortunately, until the Government make a stand and begin to take some constructive, positive steps, we are unlikely to see a change and there is a chance it may get worse.”

To speak to Danielle in regards to an employment issue, or anyone else in our fantastic  employment team, give us a call on 0161 930 5151.

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