Regulations issued under the 2010 Equality Act require all public and private-sector employers with 250 or more employees to conduct an equal pay audit.
Information about the wages of their female and male workers should be reported to the Equality and Human Rights Commission by tomorrow, if in the public sector, or next Wednesday in the case of private and charitable sector companies.
With only a few days left till the deadline little more than half of the 9,200 companies required to submit their audits had done so.
The first batch of reports reveal that the median or mid-point male worker receives almost 10 per cent more in wages than the median woman.
The Office of National Statistics puts the gap for full-time and part-time workers at a higher total - 18 per cent. Both sets of calculations use a mathematical method — the median wage rather than the mean — which reduces the gender difference. The equal pay exercise excludes directors’ salaries and other sources of income from pension and share awards, further minimising the real extent of gender inequality in the economy.
The chief executive of Virgin Money, Jayne-Anne Gadhia, welcomed the audit as a “watershed moment.”
She heads the Treasury’s “Women in Finance” Charter initiative for equal pay in that sector. The gender pay gap at Virgin Money has just been reported to be 38 per cent.
Kate Bell, head of economic and social policy at the TUC said:
“These figures show us that we have a long way to go before we close the gender pay gap in the public sector – and it is forcing us to ask why,” she said. “We still have pay discrimination, there is still a lack of women in the highest paid jobs, and there is a still a stark difference in how we value work that is traditionally seen as men or women’s work. We knew much of this, but seeing inequality in your own workplace really brings it home.”
Pat Harrington, general secretary of Solidarity commented:
"One of the fundamental principles we stand for at Solidarity is equal pay. Nobody should be paid less because of their gender. The law says that people doing the same or similar work, work which is of equal value or work that has been rated as equal through job evaluation must be paid the same – this is a principle that we defend robustly."
"The gender pay gap is a significant and widespread problem as even these massaged figures indicate. Our union welcomes the audits despite their faults as they do expose some inequalities. As a society we need to consider whether statutory sanctions are necessary against companies that fail to take action to narrow and, in time, eliminate the gender pay gap. We need to work hard to eliminate unfairness and discrimination in the workplace."