Women who suspect they are being paid less than men doing similar work are often justified in their concerns. Men earn nearly 20 per cent more than women according to the Office for National Statistics.
Mandatory gender pay gap reporting has just been introduced and as of April 2018, UK employers in the private and voluntary sectors with over 250 workers have to publish statistics on how they pay men and women every year.
Your employer will need to publish the mean and median gender pay gap, the mean and median bonus gap, the proportion of men and women receiving a bonus and the proportion of male and female workers within the business broken down into pay quartiles (i.e. the gender spread from highest to lowest pay).
The aim of this is to help tackle pay inequality and if you are concerned that you are being paid less than male colleagues, the following 10 tips may help.
- Ask your male colleagues what they earn – If your male co-worker does the same or similar work to you, ask them what they earn. It is unlawful to prevent employees from discussing pay, even if there is a pay secrecy clause in your employment contracts.
- Ask what factors influence your pay - It might be factors like qualifications and experience, performance targets, length of service etc. By finding out what these factors are from either your manager or someone in HR you can then seek to understand how they apply to you.
- Ask who determines pay – Find out who makes the decisions about pay and the bonus levels awarded.
- Gender pay gap reports - From April 2018 you will be able to ask for a copy of your employer’s gender pay statistics. Employers with over 250 members of staff are required to publish gender pay gap reports on their website or a government website. Consider whether the data is relevant to you and your experience of pay.
- Ask your employer questions about the gender pay statistics - You can ask how the statistics apply to your job, or people who do the same work as you. You can also ask questions about equality of pay between men and women in what is called a ‘Discrimination Questionnaire’.
There should not be any repercussions for raising equality questions as this is unlawful.
- The average bonus gender pay gap - Large employers are required to publish the bonus gap and the proportion of men and women in receipt of bonus. If this is relevant to you, you might reflect on whether what the data reveals is true to your experience, and consider what your employer has to say about this.
- The pay quartiles - Think about where you sit in the pay spread (highest to lowest) and consider whether there are patterns that capture you. For example, are all women in roles like yours clustered near the bottom or in the middle? This could be indicative of a glass ceiling at work. Is it mainly men in the higher paid upper quartiles? What might be the reasons for this based on what you know about how pay is determined at work?
- Competitor Analysis - Look at the gender pay gap in your organisation and compare this to what it looks like at your employer’s competitors. Discover if the pay inequality is industry-wide.
Often employers cite “market factors” (like surplus or scarcity) as being a reason for levels of pay. However, these might actually be more specific recruitment or retention issues at your workplace if they are not real factors felt across the industry.
- Escalate internally - At any stage you can raise a complaint or grievance relating to pay internally with management or HR.
- Escalate externally - You can notify ACAS of any serious gender pay and discrimination concerns. Discrimination and equal pay claims have specific and different time-limits so you should seek advice from an employment solicitor if you are contemplating making a claim for pay discrimination.
The employment law solicitors at Slater and Gordon have acted in leading pay discrimination test cases. To speak with our experts call freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will be happy to help.
Josephine Van Lierop is an employment lawyer based in Slater and Gordon’s London office. She has expertise in equal pay and discrimination.