Pay discrimination is slowing down – womens pay is catching up with the pay of men, albeit at a snails pace. Under current social policy (European in origin but that won’t change after Brexit), all employees should be treated and paid the same, without pay discrimination. However, the gender pay gap means that woman earn less than men throughout their career. The Fawcett Society argues that the main reason for gender inequality in the workplace is that women’s work is not valued. A major part of this because is because women work in sectors that require less skills, e.g. childcare and administrative work. The current gap for full time workers is 13.9%. We have seen changing attitudes towards equal pay and the introduction of the living wage, now £7.20 an hour, However, there is higher proportion of women working full-time in occupations such as care work, cleaning, administrative and reception work, which pays less and there is poor career progression, all of which leads to pay discrimination. Although the gender pay gap is at a low, the rate has slowed down. The hourly pay of full-time work for women is now 9.4% less than that earned by men. In 2015 it was 9.6% and 17.4% in 1997 according to Office for National Statistics. The policies of individual employers in regards to equal pay might have had an impact, as might government initiatives to make companies reveal the number of men and women in each pay range. The glass ceiling operates as a barrier for women to access higher jobs and salary and as more women work in lower-paid jobs than men, this barrier is still in place. In addition, the cost of childcare has risen under the current government. From 2018, businesses that employ more than 250 workers must publish how much staff are paid, broken down by sex. Following David Cameron’s vow to “end the gender pay gap in a generation“, Theresa May has promised to create a “Britain that works for everyone” and in particular to tackle pay discrimination.

By Jaspreet Singh

Image used under CC courtesy of Katrina Elsi