Posted on 16.7.15
The headline that has been announced this week is that on average a female earns 80p for every £1 earned by a male. Such a difference means that the UK has the 6th highest gender pay gap in the European Union.
The Prime Minister has stated that he intends to consign gender salary inequality to a generation by bringing in measures to close the gap. One such measure will be to introduce rules that will require businesses with more than 250 workers to disclose whether they are paying men more than women in the hope of ‘naming and shaming’ the worst offenders so that they will rectify the issue prior to the statistics being produced.
The finer details of Mr Cameron’s proposals have not yet been announced, such as what information should be disclosed and when and where such information will be published. However, the hope is that businesses, at the risk of their reputation being tarnished, will be pressurised into abiding by complete gender equality in the workplace.
The Equalities Act of 2010 allowed the Government to force companies to reveal the respective pay gap of male and female employees, however, the Conservatives favoured a voluntary approach, which quite simply did not work. Since the launch in 2011, a mere five companies have voluntarily published their statistics, clearly demonstrating that this method was not working and something further needs to be done.
The new rules will now make it mandatory for businesses with over 250 workers to disclose their stats and it will be a criminal offence for a business not to do so, with a maximum penalty of £5,000.
Whilst it is hoped that Mr Cameron’s plans will help to even out, if not diminish the gap, figures show that the unbalance between working women and men has actually started to level out in recent years in any event. With 25% of all board members in the FTSE 100 now being women, (a target set by the Government four years ago), there are no longer any male-only boardrooms, which clearly demonstrates that things are heading in the right direction – but they are not there yet and there is still work to be done if.
When will the new rules be brought in and how often?
The Government expects to bring in the new regulations in the first half of 2016, but are likely to give businesses an ‘appropriate period’ of time to prepare. The statutory requirement to produce these results will be no easy feat as an array of complex pay grades and structures, payroll systems and resources will be needed to generate the results.
The frequency of reporting is another question many businesses will have. There have been other countries that have implemented gender pay reporting, asking for companies to produce data every three years. The only current restriction is that information cannot be required more often than every 12 months.
Equal Pay Claims: The Case Studies
It has come to light in the past week that Sainburys are embroiled in an equal pay battle with four female workers who claim that they are paid less than men in comparable roles. Both sides have now instructed solicitors to act for them, and rumour has it that there is a possibility of more employees coming forward, with the same issues.
There is already a similar case against Asda, another of the Country’s leading supermarkets, where 4,000 shop-floor staff have made Equal Pay claims. The claim against Asda is set to go on trial in 2016 and is reported to be one of the most expensive equal pay cases ever in the UK.
In Equal Pay claims, where the Claimant is successful they can be awarded up to for six years’ worth of back pay for the differences between their earnings and their counterparts.
What can Gorvins do?
At Gorvins we have a dedicated and expert Employment team who have handled many Equal Pay claims successfully in the past and are willing to offer you support, guidance and the best possible advice regarding any potential claim you may have.
If you have had issues at work regarding your gender or you require more information about this topic, please give us a call on 0161 930 5117 and we will be more than happy to help. Alternatively, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as they can.
Danielle Ayres is a maternity discrimination specialist within the Employment team at Gorvins. She has recently appeared on various media outlets, such as the BBC, The Independent and The Guardian, providing expert comments on discrimination cases. To contact Danielle please use the above details to get in touch.