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Will the new gender pay gap rules mean more women taking their employers to court?

Organisations with 250 or more workers must now publish figures on the difference in pay between male and female members of staff. Will the results provide women with new evidence to support claims for equal pay and sex discrimination in the Employment Tribunals?

Newly reported figures reveal inequality

The new, greater transparency in pay has been introduced by the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. The aim of the legislation is to reveal gender inequalities in pay across the British workforce.

As the published figures are reported in the media, it has come as no surprise to see that men are generally paid more than women.

Ladbrokes, EasyJet and Virgin Money are among the major companies to reveal gender pay gaps of more than 15 per cent in favour of men for mean hourly pay. Women’s hourly pay rates are 52 per cent lower than men’s at EasyJet. On average, women earn 15 per cent less per hour at Ladbrokes and 33 per cent less at Virgin Money.

The new results also demonstrate that women tend to do the less well paid jobs. At EasyJet, for example, six per cent of its UK pilots are women – a role which pays £92,400 a year on average – whereas 69 per cent of lower-paid cabin crew are women, with an average annual salary of £24,800.

Pay information must be made public 

The information that employers must publish includes differences in mean and median hourly pay and bonuses between men and women. It must also state the proportion of women in each pay quartile within the organisation.

These figures must remain on the organisation’s website, accessible to employees and the public, for at least three years. This means, of course, that clients and job applicants will also be able to see them. The information will also be uploaded to a central government website to enable easy comparison with other employers.

Enhancing existing legislation

In fact equal pay between the sexes has been mandatory since the Equal Pay Act 1970. Additionally, sex discrimination in recruitment and promotion has been outlawed since the Sex Discrimination Act 1972. (Both are now contained in the Equality Act 2010.) The emerging figures of women’s low pay do not reflect the fact that equal treatment and equal opportunities at work have long been enshrined in law.

Men and women should always be paid the same doing the same role, whether they do it on a full time or part time basis. They should also have access to equal opportunities at work. Evidence of endemic inequality has surfaced because of the new gender pay gap reporting rules, and is likely to be used in many future Employment Tribunal claims.

To read what else we have written on this subject please see: New laws on reporting gender pay gaps

For legal help and guidance on any employment issues, please contact Wards Solicitors’ Employment team  or call in at one of our 11 local offices.

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