HR Issues – Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus but are they being paid the same?

With the gender pay gap reporting deadline of 5th April (the end of March for public sector organisations) looming we are also seeing an escalation of high profile equal pay cases hit the media.

In the case of the BBC, matters were brought to light when reporter Carrie Gracie resigned from her role due to the fact that she was not being paid equal to her male colleagues. Her suspicions of unequal pay were confirmed when she was not on a list that was released of all employees paid over £150,000 at the BBC. She proceeded to write a letter to the organisation demanding equal pay. The BBC responded offering Gracie a pay rise, which she declined noting that she was not looking for a pay rise, but seeking true pay equality among men and women working at the BBC. In an unprecedented move, male reporters at the same level proposed to take pay cuts to address this imbalance.

Further, accusations of unequal pay have surfaced against retailer, Tesco, in the largest pay gap claim ever made in Britain. The claim came about from the complaints of over 1,000 Tesco staff that women in hourly-paid jobs earn less than male colleagues for work of equal value. These employees and thousands more could receive a payback of £20,000 if their case is successful, costing Tesco about £4 billion.

The above two cases highlight the importance of using job evaluations to robustly analyse the internal value of whether a BBC China correspondent is of equal value to an USA correspondent and whether Tesco shop workers are of equal value to their warehouse workers.

As previous Navigator articles have explained, an equal pay issue does not necessarily mean a large gender pay gap and, vice versa.  The gender pay gap provides a very broad analysis of the difference between mean, median and quartile pay between men and women. For instance, a report published by the BBC in 2017 revealed a 10.7% pay gap between male and female employees. BBC director, Lord Hall, has pledged to close the gap by 2020.

Incredibly, according to the Financial Times only 1 in 10 of organisations have reported their gender pay gap so far. Even more astounding is that 1 in 20 have reported highly improbable gender pay statistics.

Currently organisations will not be punished or penalised for failure to publish the data, more serious repercussions may result from withholding this information from the public or reporting false information. It is largely a matter of transparency. The European Human Rights Commission have however, asked for funding so that they can impose sanctions above “naming and shaming” so watch this space.

In conclusion, the UK has seen quite a few stories about wide gender pay gaps over the past year.

Therefore, our advice is that as a matter of good practice all organisations should be analysing and addressing any equal pay issue at the same time as looking at the gender pay gap analyses.  We also recommend that this is carried out regardless of the size of the organisation whereas the statutory requirement for gender pay gap reporting for private and third sector organisations are for those with over 250 workers.

The more transparent organisations are the more opportunity they have to maintain positive relationships with clients, employees, customers and the like while making an effort to narrow the gap if necessary.

There are four practical ways to ensure gender pay equality. Organisations should:

  • Carry out job evaluations based upon objective criteria to assess the internal value of posts not people and then decide on a fair and objective pay structure.
  • Eliminate bias in recruiting.
  • Creatively mitigate career interruptions.
  • Utilise analytics to identify inequalities.

The gender pay gap exists. No matter what an organisation’s history looks like, it may be time to face the past, and take steps toward a better, more equal future.

If you would like to continue the discussion and how it pertains to your organisation, please contact Navigator to learn about our human resources and employment law services.

If you have any questions on any of the issues raised in the above article please contact Stephanie Harper.

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