Equal pay debate

October 12, 2015

I’m getting a tiny bit (OK, BIG bit!) enraged and I’m not alone. Meryl Streep is enraged with me. I know it’s an age old debate, but why, 44 years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, are we still unable to pay women and men the same rate for equal work?

What got me started was listening to Meryl eloquently talk about the issue when being interviewed on Radio4’s Today program ahead of the launch of her movie, Suffragette. She argued (and I agree) that it hasn’t been of interest to men in the past, and hasn’t been perceived as their issue. They haven’t felt, to quote Meryl, “icky enough” to act.

Thankfully, David Cameron is now feeling the “ick factor” and has made it his business at the Conservative Conference, as a father of two girls, to try and move the issue forward. Interesting that it has to take a man to champion the cause…

As an example of the issue, Asda are currently experiencing the “ick factor”. Their female retail employees are bringing a class action as we speak, demanding the same rate of pay as their male warehouse colleagues, arguing their work is all of the same value.

Think it’s better north of the border? Think again. Nicola Sturgeon and Co are currently facing an even worse pay gap. Depressing stuff. Northern Ireland is fairing a little better, bucking the trend slightly in favour of women, though the Guardian puts this down to the high percentage of women employed in the public sector there.

With an interesting slant like this, what does this mean for the average employer in the UK? Well, if you have over 250 employees or workers you will need to start reporting on your gender pay information as of 2016. This may not make for easy reading, but it’s a start.

Thinking, “Phew! We DREAM of having that many staff!”? Or “Ha! That bureaucratic idea doesn’t bother us!”? Hmmmm….. Sadly, the pay gap is there even in smaller companies. It never hurts to have a look at this and complete a quick salary survey just to keep your conscience from nagging!

This isn’t just a finance or HR “to do” that can be solved by a tick box exercise. It’s part of your wider approach to equality, retention and your company values. Is it morally right that in 2015, 100 years after Women were given the right to vote (after lunatics and criminals… I’m off again!) we still have a 9.4% pay gap between women and their male counterparts?

David Cameron has put it out there he isn’t happy that his daughters face this gap; how do you feel about this? And what can you do with your company to try and be part of the solution, not the continuing inequality?

Need help with a salary review? Want to know more about how you could review your equality policy? Need to review your retention strategy? Give HR180 a call!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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