Gender Pay Gap Revealed In Great Britain

British Gender Pay Gap

New reporting requirements from the British government require British companies who have 250 or more employees to report on the gender salary differences of their employees each year. 2018 marks the first year that this information has been published, with over 10,000 companies reporting the differences between the average hourly pay between their male and female employees before 5 April 2018.

Perhaps unsurprising to anyone who has read studies or news articles on the gender pay gap, the news is disheartening for women. The data from the employers shows that almost eight out of ten firms in the UK pay women less than men with the average median difference being 9.7% less than a male colleague.

14% of those reporting pay women more while 8% reported having no pay gap between men and women. The new reporting is a legal requirement for businesses now and must be provided every year, with those who do not report being given the chance before being named and shamed along with legal action and unlimited fines being given.

This year, 1,557 firms had missed the deadline that had been set by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission. The firms will be contacted to remind them of legal obligations and if they further fail to comply, then there is the risk of further action.

Gender Pay Gap Not Illegal

It is important to note when reading these figures that while unequal pay, which is when a man and a woman hold the same job but are paid differently, is illegal, having a gender pay gap is not. There can be many reasons for having a gender pay gap in a company including having higher numbers of men who are paid more, such as in executive or board roles.

Maternity leave can also affect a woman’s salary which can further affect the gap.  But companies still have a duty to try and reduce the pay gap, with certain companies being left red faced by the revelations of the new figures. HSBC, one of the largest banks in the world, has been revealed to have a high pay gap with men being paid 59% more than women.

Virgin Atlantic pays their male employees 58% more on average while Ryanair reported a huge 71.8% gender pay gap, though Virgin Atlantic has noted that the gap reflects the disparity in gender among pilots in the aviation industry.

Certain companies however reported no pay gap, including many familiar high street brands including KFC, McDonald’s, Primark, Starbucks and Costa. On top of this, certain companies paid their women on average more including Tesla Motors and the electronics retailer Richer Sounds.

Organisations Spurred Onto Change

There can be criticisms laid at how the reporting has been done, many of the ways that companies have reported can be potentially open to misinterpretation as companies are not under obligation to give breakdowns of salaries. This means that companies must report the earnings of a chief executive along with that of a secretary, which would evidently skew the pay gap when compared directly.

While there is no legal requirement for companies to implement any further change, the revelations that have been made are already spurring certain organisations to implement changes that will hopefully reduce the gender pay gap. Board members and shareholders will be eager to show that they are implementing change as there will no doubt that customers and employees will begin to comment on the gaps.

According to The Economist, Royal Bank of Scotland have already vowed to achieve gender balance across all their ranks by 2030 whereas the Telegraph has pledged to close its gap by 2025. Companies may also see bonuses scrutinised with ITN, producer of news for ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, reporting that there would be no bonuses paid to senior management unless targets for “exacting gender and diversity” are hit, even if the company hits financial targets.

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Sarah Jubb
Sarah Jubb

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