UK median gender pay gap higher than EU average

Employee Benefits Live 2015: The gender pay gap stands at 19.1% in the UK in terms of median pay rates for all employees (full-time and part-time), higher than the EU 2014 average of 16.4%.

When looking at full-time earning metrics, women in the UK receive 9.4% less than male workers.

Duncan Brown

The different figures are an important factor to bear in mind when considering the government’s plans to introduce gender pay gap reporting for organisations with more than 250 employees, according to Duncan Brown (pictured), head of HR consultancy at the Institute for Employment Studies.

What information should be reported (mean or median comparative figures, base pay, bonuses, overtime, hourly rates or annual earnings) is one of the issues on the agenda for the government’s gender pay gap reporting consultation, which was open for comment from 14 July-6 September 2015.

Other factors to be established before the reporting regulations come into effect include where the information should be published, when and how frequently, how the data collection process would work in practice and how it would be enforced.

During his keynote presentation ‘Addressing unequal pay: opening Pandora’s box’ at Employee Benefits Live 2015, Brown urged employers to take a proactive approach to the gender pay gap ahead of impending legislation on pay data reporting.

Tackling the issue could involve measures such as ensuring well-designed job evaluation plans and pay management structures are in place, and assessing performance criteria for bonuses, he said.

If a pay disparity is identified and further investigated, organisations could then take a phased approach to address the problem. In addition to considering any litigation, financial or talent risks, employers could conduct an equal pay audit and begin to look at potential solutions.

Brown added that addressing the gender pay gap sooner rather than later could provide cost and time savings, as well as foster a sense of internal fairness and improve employee engagement within an organisation.

Brown said: “Everybody accepts that this is not any easy issue, it will take time to address, particularly in low-paid sectors such as care, but that’s no excuse to not start [tackling it].

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”Let’s hope that 20 years down the road having an almost 20% pay gap will be seen as totally ridiculous.”