Call to include ethnicity and disability in gender pay laws

A think-tank has called for the UK’s gender pay laws to be extended to cover ethnicity and disability pay gaps.

The study by the Institute for Public Policy Research, a left-of-centre think-tank, also found that over the past seven years the gender pay gap fell by just 2.3 percentage points.

It concluded that if the gender pay gap continued to close at the pace it has since 2011, it would not be eliminated until 2072.

Under UK government rules introduced last year, companies and public sector organisations with more than 250 employees must publish mean and median gender pay gaps, the proportion of men and women in each quartile pay band, and the differences in average bonuses between genders.

The IPPR said the new regulations had been a “resounding success” but that employers with more than 250 staff should now be required to publish information on a wider range of pay inequalities.

The report called on large employers to publish an annual Fair Pay Report that set out the gender, ethnicity and disability pay gap at the organisation, as well as the internal pay ratio between the chief executive and the average employee.

The think-tank said the proportion of workers paid below the real living wage should also be reported. The wage is set by the Living Wage Foundation campaign, which sets a minimum hourly rate “independently calculated based on what people need to get by”.

The report said: “The additional burden on employers who already collect pay data for the gender reporting requirements would be small, compared with the radical extension of pay transparency it would produce.”

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It added that medium sized companies with 50 to 250 employees should only have to report on the gender pay gap, the proportion of workers below the real Living Wage, and the top to median pay ratio. These businesses should be given until April 2021 to report back.

According to the Office for National Statistics, the gender pay gap has narrowed but there is still a difference of 8.6 per cent between full time workers, and 17.9 per cent for all workers.

“Transparency has driven the gender pay gap up the agenda, and it is spurring employers to act,” said Joe Dromey, senior research fellow at IPPR.

“While transparency will help, it alone will not tackle pay inequality. So we also need to see action from employers and from government to address the structural drivers of inequality.”


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