Government to force employers to own up to gender pay gap

The UK government has announced that it is to push ahead with plans to force firms with more than 250 employees to disclose information on pay gaps between men and women.

The new measures, which will be defined through a consultation process which kicks off this week, were proposed by the previous administration in response to Office of National Statistics figures showing that women working in the UK get paid on average 9.4 per cent less than men.

This pay gap is found to a greater and lesser degree throughout the economy, including in the manufacturing sector where, according to The Engineer’s 2015 Salary Survey women engineers earn on average 10 per cent less than their male colleagues.

Commenting on the government’s proposed initiative Tim Thomas, head of employment policy at EEF, the manufacturers’ organisation, warned against confusing a gender pay gap with equal pay, and stressed that gender pay reporting must be carried out in a balanced way.

However, our survey also revealed a pay gap between men and women at similar levels of seniority, with male junior engineers earning on average £3,000 more per year, and male senior engineers earning £45,458 on average compared to £39,332 for women.

Despite this, The Engineer Salary Survey nevertheless suggests one of the key reasons for the apparent disparity between men’s and women’s salaries is the higher proportion of men in senior positions and the relatively low proportion of female engineers in the 50 plus age bracket.

And whilst the latest initiative is to be welcomed, it seems likely that concerted action on ensuring that women enjoy the same opportunities for career progression as men will ultimately have the biggest impact on addressing any apparent gender pay disparity. ”Addressing the gender pay gap is the right priority,” commented Katja Hall, CBI deputy director-general, “To see real progress, however, we need to challenge occupational stereotypes by encouraging more women into male dominated industries and investing in careers advice.”

Click here to access The Engineer Salary Survey 2015

And click here to access our online salary-benchmarking tool and find out whether you’re over or underpaid.