Thirty years after the Sex Discrimination Act 1976 (updated in the Equality Act 2010), the wage gap still exists. Some employment solicitors are wringing their hands and the media has recently taken an interest.
Media coverage and government initiatives focus almost exclusively on the pay gap between men and women. But an area of the pay gap that has been mostly overlooked is the motherhood pay gap.
A recent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) points out that men are paid almost 33% more than mothers.
What causes this? How can society claim equality as a value and yet still be plagued by wage gaps? But most importantly, how do we go about ending this sex discrimination?
What is the pay gap and why is it important?
Before we look at how to fix the pay gap, we need to understand what it is. The gender pay gap is not really about men and women being paid differently for doing the same job, it’s that as you get higher up the career ladder, fewer women are represented. Men are simply more likely to be promoted to higher-paying jobs.
The gender pay gap reaffirms stereotypes about roles of men and women. Women mostly look after children, interrupt their careers and this adversely affects mothers’ pay. The longer this has gone on, the more entrenched it has become and the more we take it for granted. Pay gaps are the natural consequence of the glass ceiling.
How does the pay gap adversely affect mothers?
Up to twelve years after the birth of her first child, a mother’s pay falls by about 33% compared to men. It falls by about 7% less than her childless female colleague.
Bizarrely, fathers are often perceived to be more hard-working and this is reflected in their pay. Fathers are paid on average 15% more than childless men . This is because working mothers are usually considered to be of less value to a company. This was illustrated when Nigel Farage made headlines for baldly stating that mothers are worth far less to their companies on their return to work. This continues to perpetuate the idea that women have to make a choice between work and having a family.
When returning to work, mothers often feel they have no choice but to return in a part-time role, because family care and domestic responsibilities are still not equally shared. Far more women than men choose to take parental leave. Employment solicitors and commentators on sex discrimination observe that changes need to be made to allow women to make the decision to have children and not face repercussions for it.
What can be done?
There has been some progress in reducing the gender pay gap, the IFS notes. The current 18% gender pay gap is down from 23% in 2003 and 28% in 1993. Suggestions have varied from earlier childcare opportunities to combining education and the workplace. But things are unlikely to change until fathers take equal shared parental leave, allowing mothers to return to work. And they don’t.
Main image courtesy of Reynermedia used under CCRead More
Just recently, the burger chain Byron Burger was thrust into the limelight after it came to light that it was employing a large number of employees without the right to work in the UK. This is contrary to UK employment law. 35 employees have been interviewed and 25 of them deported. The company received criticism for working with the Home Office to set up a fake training day so that Border Agency staff could more easily round up its workers. Byron management have not responded to that particular allegation. They have stated that they were cooperating fully with the Home Office in its investigation.
As a result, Byron Burger have received a lot of online criticism by staff, even those who admitted working illegally. One employee said “They used us and threw us away”. Reprisals have included having live insects released into two of its restaurants.
The questions that arise as a result of this is whether Byron Burger was right to set the trap and what repercussions could it have for right to work.
Were they right or wrong?
The first thing to clear up is that there is no suggestion that Byron Burger breached employment law by employing them knowingly or recklessly. An employer who is duped by false ID documents will face no penalty, if it made the required checks. Nor did it act outside employment law by working with the Home Office. Byron was entitled to co-operate with the government in this way. It was underhand but this is not itself unlawful. By co-operating they may have assisted the brand by showing honesty. Nevertheless, there was no legal reason for Byron burger to have set up the trap. It would have potentially led to less controversy if the company had chosen to cooperate with the Home Office by carrying out further independent checks into the employees flagged up to confirm or dismiss the suspicions.
What could we see going forward?
As a result of this case’s publicity we might begin to see employers adopting more rigorous methods to avoid counterfeit documents making it through the right-to-work screening process. We could also potentially see employers actually complying with their employment law obligations to carrying out checks at the required intervals during the course of employment to ensure that employees still have their legal right to work.Read More