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over 1 year ago by Melissa Kilday

The Gender Pay Gap

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On the 6th of April this year, the Government Equalities Office announced the ‘Gender Pay Gap Viewing Service’, a section of the equalities website in which the public can see whether companies are meeting their pay gap opportunities. This is in response to a growing concern over the gender pay gap, maternity leave and several other issues women are facing in the work place.

Since this has been implemented, UK companies have published figures which show many companies have pay gaps that are up to 36% a report for The Independent has revealed, which is almost double the British national average of an 18% gap. This has been explained by reference to the different job functions many men and women hold in organisations, with experience and education also existing as major factors. However, with these explanations accounted for, the pay gap is still 5.5%, which is slightly largely than the percentage in the USA of 5.4%.

One of the leading causes behind the gender pay gap is motherhood and many women feeling that they have to choose between a child and a career. In March, news broke that a group of around 50 MPs were urging for legislation to allow a fairer system for maternity and paternity leave. The MPs in support of the bill argue female employees will gain the benefit of not having reduced pay if they take maternity time off work, as their children’s fathers will also be able to have an increase in hours. The MPs also argue that this will help new fathers become more connected with their children, thus making them more motivated and driven when they return to work.

Britain pay some of the lowest maternity wages in Europe and in terms of maternity leave, Britain’s exit from the European Union may mean less maternity time available for workers, as maternity leave is partially regulated by the EU. This may not be affected depending on which EU regulations the Government elects to keep however and new legislation may mean there is even an increase in time and payment.

Another factor that must be considered is research conducted by Warwick Economics in their study Do Women Ask?  In this study, it was found that women are less likely to ask for pay rises in the workplace then men (partially due to fear of the negative environment they feel it will cultivate) as well as the fact women are less likely to receive a pay rise when asking compared to male workers, however this study was conducted by asking Australian workers, therefore the evidence may not be applicable to British companies.

Iceland have recently made headlines due to their introduction of laws to reduce gendered income inequality, despite already being the country with the smallest pay gap on Earth. If companies do not comply with these new regulations, they may face audits and fines and the vote also affected pay for ethnic minorities, LGBT citizens, disabled people and religious followers.

Although the statistics may portray Britain and the wider World changing its approach to the gender pay gap, the Office for National Statistics has revealed that nationally the pay gap is reducing by only two and a half pence each year, meaning the gap may not be fully closed until the year 2069. The Office for National Statistics has described the issue as ‘complicated’, but explained that more girls sitting A-levels (12,500 more girls sat A-levels in STEM subjects than in 2010, meaning they are more likely to be paid a higher wage), an increase in female role models in the workplace and regulation could all be factors in how it’s being reduced.