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Mind the Gap – what’s new with equal pay?
17 March 2016

London

The anecdotal evidence seems pretty compelling; women earn 40% less than men over their lifetime, women managers effectively work 57 days a year for nothing because of the pay gap and yet 14% more women than men currently go to university. So what are the facts and what are companies doing about the issue?

It is 45 years since the introduction of the first Equal Pay act – and in the UK the gender pay gap is still alive and kicking. Standing at 9.4% for full time workers and 19.1% for part-time, the gap may well be at its lowest since 1997, but it’s still the 6th highest gap in Europe.

In some sectors, the gap is even wider. The ECHR flexed its rarely exercised muscles in 2009, requiring financial services companies to provide comprehensive pay data. This revealed a 55% gender pay gap.

It is an issue that all political parties have sought to improve – in part by wanting companies to be more transparent in their reporting. The Labour government laid the foundations by including powers in the Equalities Act 2010 to require companies to publish information. But the coalition did not move to enact them – favouring a voluntary Think, Act, Report scheme. Despite more than 275 employers joining the scheme, only five companies have actually published: Tesco, Friends Life, PwC, AstraZeneca and Genesis.

After the 2015 election, the Conservative government included provisions in the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act that from Spring 2016, all companies over 250 employees would be required to publish their figures, though the detail is still to be finalised.

As if this wasn’t enough to grapple with, there is the real and present threat of class action suits – with some high-profile cases having been expensively settled already. And those claims can go back 6 years.

So, there’s plenty to talk about at this discussion meeting – from who’s been doing what and why, to who needs to be doing what and why? It will be supported by a brief research report outlining the key issues with comment from a panel of experts, case studies and detailed analysis.

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