Lovewell’s logic: Will we ever successfully close unequal pay gaps?

Debbie Lovewell Tuck Editor Employee BenefitsNext Wednesday, 22 November, is Equal Pay Day in the UK. This is the date when, based on mean average earnings, women effectively stop being paid for the year compared to men. According to analysis by the Fawcett Society, which is behind the day, the UK’s gender pay gap currently stands at 10.7%, a 0.2 percentage point fall, equivalent to 48 hours, from 2022.

There is no disputing that the gender pay gap is a historic, deeply entrenched issue for many employers with no quick fix available to rectify the situation. Overall, however, progress can feel frustratingly slow. Analysis of the Office for National Statistic’s latest employee earnings data published earlier this week by HR and payroll software provider Ciphr, for example, found that 78% of all full-time job roles in the UK have a gender pay gap in favour of men. Of these, 30% pay men at least 10% more per hour on average, while a further 32% pay male employees between 5% and 9% more than their female colleagues.

Over the course of a career, this disparity can amount to a significant difference in pay, with the potential to also impact womens’ pension savings.

Sign up to our newsletters

Receive news and guidance on a range of HR issues direct to your inbox

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

The gender pay gap is also not the only pay gap employers are currently facing. Analysis published by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) this week showed that disabled workers now earn 14.6% less than non-disabled colleagues. According to the trade union’s analysis, this means disabled employees effectively work for free for the last 47 days of the year (from 14 November).

A number of employers, meanwhile, now voluntarily report their organisation’s ethnicity pay gap. According to Business in the Community’s 2023 Race at work charter survey, published in October, 44% of respondents now do so, up from 30% in 2020. Recording and monitoring such statistics is vital for organisations to track the progress they are making when it comes to pay inequalities.

So, while the statistics don’t make for easy reading at times, employers clearly have a huge mountain to climb if we are to achieve true pay equality. There is little doubt that most organisations have taken great steps to work towards this, but pay inequality is a problem that requires a long-term fix and will take time to overcome. It begs the question: should this burden rest solely on employers to solve or should more support and guidance be available to bolster their efforts?

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell