A Look at the Gender Pay Gap

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average hourly earnings between men and women across the workforce.

The gender pay gap has been declining in some industries slowly over time; over the last decade it has fallen by approximately a quarter among both full-time employees and all employees.

In 2021, the gap among full-time employees was 7.9%, an increase from 7.0% in 2020. However, this is still below the gap of 9.0% before the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic in 2019, and so the downward trend is continuing.

The Gender Pay Gap During the Covid-19 Pandemic

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees found themselves furloughed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. In April 2020, approximately 8.8 million employees were furloughed, and in April 2021, this had reduced to 3.7 million.

In 2020, a slightly higher proportion of men found themselves furloughed with reduced pay. In contrast, 2021 saw a higher proportion of women furloughed due to the closure of schools and women’s role in proportionately undertaking the childcare provision for children. This could potentially explain why the pay gap was slightly larger in 2021 than 2020.

The gender pay gap is different from equal pay which states that you are entitled to the same wage as someone doing work of equal value to you. The gender pay gap considers all job roles and compares the average income of men and women in the workplace. A company might have a gender pay gap, despite paying men and females the same amount for similar roles, if most senior roles are filled by men, equally traditionally more women work on a part time basis due to their caring responsibilities, which also has an effect on those furloughed.

Many social and political factors may contribute to a gender pay gap. These are:

  • Promotions – there is a lack of promotions for women who are in senior roles as men fill the majority.
  • Care – women are more likely to work part-time due to caring responsibilities for children and this often means a lower income.
  • Lower-paid roles – research shows that women are more likely to accept a lower-paid role.

What Do Employers Have To Do?

The Gender Pay Gap Regulations require employers with 250 employees or more to report and publish information on their website and through the governments’ gender pay gap reporting website. This information includes:

  • The mean and median gender pay gap in hourly pay
  • The mean and median bonus gender pay gap
  • The proportion of males and females in each pay quartile
  • The proportion of males and females receiving a bonus

If there is a gender pay gap, employers are encouraged to comment on this and outline how they plan to reduce it.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further or are looking for legal advice relating to the Gender Pay Gap, please contact our People Services team at Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077.