The Gender Pay Gap; is this discrimination?
The gender pay gap has been a hot topic recently, and with Hollywood stars such as Benedict Cumberbatch championing the cause it is no surprise. In a recent interview Mr Cumberbatch revealed that he would turn down roles in projects where his female counterparts don’t receive equal pay. But you don’t have to be a Hollywood actor to be affected by the gender pay gap.
Recent studies have shown that female employees in the UK earn on average 18.4% less than their male counterparts, and 78% of large UK companies admit to paying male employees more than females. As women currently make up 47% of the workforce these statistics are alarmingly high, and worryingly improvements have been slow. If progress continues at the current rate it will take 100 years to close the gender pay gap.
In 1970 legislation was introduced to prevent employers from paying female employees less because of their sex. This legislation applies to anyone working in the UK and can equally be used by male employees in the same position. Under this legislation, employees who are paid less due to their sex can bring claims in the Employment Tribunal for all aspects of pay, including overtime rates, performance related benefits, hours of work, and annual leave entitlements.
The introduction of mandatory pay gap reporting in 2017 requires employers with more than 250 employees to provide details of their gender pay gap along with the proportion of men and women in each section of the company’s pay structure. Disappointingly, women made up only 8% of the senior positions in the UK’s 100 biggest companies.
However, the gender pay gap is just one of many types of sex discrimination in the workplace. Sexual harassment and victimisation are common examples of sex discrimination experienced by employees and job applicants. Worryingly however, 58% of women and 43% of men who have experienced sexual harassment admit to not reporting it to their employer.
Despite the high number of employees who don’t report harassment, discrimination claims are on the rise. Employment Tribunal statistics reveal that the number of claims for sex discrimination in England and Wales has increased by 76% since 2013, with claims for equal pay increasing by 91% since 2015. As such, employers should be aware that sex discrimination can be both direct and indirect. It is therefore essential that employers ensure that their policies are fair to all employees, and incidents of discrimination are dealt with effectively and appropriately.
So whether you are an employer or an employee, and require assistance regarding any aspect of sex discrimination, or discrimination in the workplace please contact me.
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