Home / Insights / Blog / Calls For Measures to Reduce Pay Gaps

Calls For Measures to Reduce Pay Gaps

Calls For Measures to Reduce Pay Gaps

Employment gender pay gaps

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) says all jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working, in order to tackle pay gaps.

The proposal is one of a series by the commission in a new strategy paper encouraging employers to tackle bias in recruitment, promotion and pay in order to increase workforce diversity.

The EHRC said that the change would benefit women and disabled people, who are more likely to need flexible working and are often forced to accept part-time jobs that offer lower pay.

Other measures recommended by the commission include giving fathers additional “use it or lose it” paternity leave, paid at a higher rate, to encourage men to take more time off when their children are born.

Data in the EHRC report, Fair Opportunities for All: A strategy to reduce pay gaps in Britain, also show that while the gender pay gap is 18.1%, there is also an ethnic minority imbalance of 5.7% and a disability pay gap of 13.6%. While these differences are smaller than between men and women, there are stark contrasts for certain groups, it says.

Progress on tacking pay gap has been ‘painfully slow’

Caroline Waters, deputy chair of the commission, has said that progress on tackling gender-based pay differentials in the UK had been “painfully slow” and she has urged action to ensure the problem is eradicated:

“We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps – it’s not just about more women at the top . . . . female representation is important but tackling pay gaps is far more complicated than that. Whilst there has been some progress, it has been painfully slow. We need radical change now otherwise we’ll be having the same conversation for decades to come.”

Employers don’t recognise they have a pay gap problem, says EHRC

Since April it has been mandatory for private and voluntary sector organisations with more than 250 employees to report on the gender pay gap in their workforce, and Theresa May pledged to extend the requirement to the gap between ethnicities if she won the general election in June.

But the EHRC said the government’s campaign to promote gender equality in the workplace had made little progress because “Many companies fail to recognise they have a gender pay gap and therefore take no action to close it; others do not see it as a priority.”

The commission also said employers’ efforts on ethnicity and disability tended to lag behind those on gender, with closing the disability pay gap dubbed a “distant prospect”.

The advice and mediation service Acas has given its support to the commission’s call for increased flexible working opportunities. Julie Dennis, its head of diversity, said: “This research shines an important light on pay gaps between ethnicities and disabled people as well as proposals to reduce the gender pay gap . . . Employers who want to make sure women with children don’t miss out on the top jobs should make flexible working available for men and women.”

Flexible working is not always viable for employers, says CBI

Matthew Percival, the head of employment at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “It is important firms are open to discussing what forms of flexible working are possible with job seekers as well as employees, but it will not always be viable to offer all forms of flexible working. The pay gap issue sits right at the heart of our society and is a symbol of the work we still need to do to achieve equality for all.”

Jane Gratton, the head of business environment at the British Chambers of Commerce, said:

“Businesses know that treating staff fairly in the workplace is essential to recruiting and retaining the best talent and ensuring the long term success of the business. Adding more bureaucracy and red tape, however, should be avoided.”

Expert employment advice for employers

Our experienced lawyers provide advice on the employment aspects of all major business decisions including the creation of fair employment policies, managing redundancies and restructuring, TUPE and mergers and acquisitions. For more information please contact a member of the team today on 03456 381381 or email employment@ibblaw.co.uk.