How can UK plc get a handle on equal pay and the gender pay gap?
After the latest round of gender pay reports, the all-round feedback from those in the HR community has been ‘could-do better’. Employer News asked three leading HR support professionals for their thoughts on gender pay reports – this is what they told us:
Employment Law Solicitor – “Let’s start by meeting equal pay obligations”
Ian Winrow is Senior Partner at North Wales Employment Law specialist Winrow Solicitors and Head of Employment Law at Bangor University. Ian says:
“The Directory for Social Change released findings this month showing the share of women on company boards is only 24%, whilst men represent 76%. This needs to change if we are to tackle the gender pay gap.
“However, getting employers to meet their legal equal pay obligations would be a start. The equality act makes it clear that pay discrimination on any protected characteristic, including sex, is unlawful.
“Workers are legally entitled to equal pay for equivalent job roles. If employers don’t know what ‘equivalent’ means, they can hire a rewards expert to carry out a job evaluation study. It’s neither expensive or difficult, yet I’ve worked on multiple equal pay and gender discrimination cases across all sizes of organisations.
“Only this year, the appeal court upheld earlier rulings that Asda shop floor roles are comparable to those undertaken by depot workers, which typically pay more and have more male employees. The claims are still proceeding and could reach billions.
“Some employers mistakenly rely on a pay secrecy clause in the employment contract to avoid staff finding out co-worker pay. My advice is don’t bother, this clause is overridden if your employees suspect inequality of pay on gender grounds (or on grounds of another protected characteristic, such as age or race) and won’t be held in breach of contract if pay is discussed on these grounds.
“The gender pay gap reports signal that discrimination is taking place under the radar – I’d like to see it stamped out and as a leading employment lawyer it’s something I’m keen to help employers get right.”
To learn more about Ian Winrow, visit: https://www.winrowsolicitors.co.uk/
The PR in HR Specialist – “Getting pay and reward right builds trust”
Kay Phelps specialises in PR for the HR sector. She says publishing a wide gender pay gap can easily damage an organisation’s reputation and employer brand:
“As a PR specialist in the HR sector, we highlight interesting and positive work that HR does, using media relations and internal communications to build trust with employees as well as with current and potential customers.
“It goes without saying that publishing a report showing a wide gender pay gap is bad for a brand image, possibly leading to negative press headlines, as well as damaging internal trust within the business.
“Pay is one of the most important issues for employees, and keeping employee trust is crucial for HR and the business.
“Getting pay and reward, and other HR issues right, is a key way to build employee trust – do that, and buyer and external trust follows more easily.”
To learn more about Kay Phelps, visit https://www.prinhr.co.uk/
The pay and reward expert – “Conduct an Equal Pay Audit – don’t focus on ticking legal boxes”
Rameez Kaleem, Director at Pay and Reward Consultants 3R Strategy, has an extensive career in pay and reward, having worked with some of the UK’s leading organisations. Rameez says:
“I firmly believe that merely publishing gender pay reports will not close the gender pay gap. An equal pay audit is the only logical starting point.
“Instead of focusing on meeting the legal minimum, organisations should be transparent about why the gender pay gap exists and clearly articulate what they are doing to bridge this gap. It’s important for employers to find a pay and reward strategy that is visibly fair and builds trust. Ultimately, this is the point of reporting the gender pay gap in the first place but it has simply become a tick-box exercise.
“We have worked with clients that reported a large gender pay gap but carried out detailed analysis and provided commentary to explain why the gap exists and the steps they were taking to reduce this disparity. We help clients who are undertaking an equal pay audit to identify ‘equivalent’ jobs so they can reassure their people that men and women are paid equally for equivalent jobs, or if there are any risks, they are taking immediate steps to address this.
“Communication is critical when it comes to reward and it’s difficult to communicate and build trust with your people with just the mandatory reporting figures. I sincerely hope that by the next round of reporting, we will see more companies going beyond the mandatory requirements and begin making progress on closing the gender pay gap.”
To learn more about Rameez Kaleem, visit https://3r-strategy.com/