Employers that mind the pay gap

Employers are burying their heads in the sand over equal pay, with many simply leaving problems to resolve themselves. According to a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission, the majority of organisations are over-confident about their performance, despite figures showing the UK has a significant gender pay gap. The report found that 93% of firms […]

Employers are burying their heads in the sand over equal pay, with many simply leaving problems to resolve themselves.

According to a report by the Equal Opportunities Commission, the majority of organisations are over-confident about their performance, despite figures showing the UK has a significant gender pay gap.

The report found that 93% of firms believed their pay practices to be fair — even though only 35% had carried out any analysis of pay by gender.The NOP study, Gender Equality in Pay Practices, based on interviews with senior HR managers in more than 300 large organisations, also found that only one in five big employers had made active use of the commission’s voluntary code of practice on equal pay.

Commenting on the findings, Julie Mellor, chair of the commission, said managers were often more comfortable talking about equal opportunities than equal pay.

She added: ‘It is clear that organisations are not doing enough to ensure they are paying women fairly. The vast majority of employers believe their pay systems are fair, but they have little evidence to prove it.

‘Even public sector organisations committed to achieving equality are not all ensuring their pay systems are fair — although their record is generally much better than the private sector’s.’

Susan Anderson, CBI Director of Human Resources Policy, rejected the report’s complacency charge, accusing the commission of over simplifying the issue.

She said: ‘There is little evidence that the vast majority of employers are wrong in believing their pay systems to be fair. Yes, there is a pay gap, but the reasons for it are much more complex than direct discrimination.’

The report is one of a series of surveys carried out for the commission’s Equal Pay Task Force which will next month present its recommendations for tackling the current 18% gender pay gap. It comes just a month after the government indicated it wanted to see progress on the issue, with with plans to make it easier for women to go to an employment tribunal over equal pay.

A consultation paper, Towards Equal Pay for Women, proposed a streamlining of current tribunal procedures in order to speed up and simplify equal pay cases.