People still confuse equal pay and gender pay gap

One of the architects of a revolutionary new pay gap reporting policy in Britain says 50,000 women a year in the UK lose their jobs because of having children, which shows discrimination lives despite equality laws.

Lydia Morrish
Lydia Morrish NewsMavens, United Kingdom
People still confuse equal pay and gender pay gap - NewsMavens
Woman with money. Pixabay

Why this story matters:

Jo Swinson, the deputy leader of the British centrist Liberal Democrats party, was one of the main engineers of a new gender pay gap reporting service that has made more than 10,000 companies reveal their pay figures.

But while the drive towards transparency will provoke companies to do more to combat pay inequality and lack of opportunities for women at work, she says people are conflating equal pay and the gender pay gap.

Swinson says companies often try to shield themselves by saying "there isn’t an equal pay issue in this company, and therefore it’s all okay." But a company with equal pay can still have a pay gap. 

The Equal Pay Act of 1970 requires that people doing the same work be paid the same despite gender, race, or sexuality. Equal pay for equal work is also enshrined in the European Treaties.

The pay gap is the difference between men and women's average earnings. Motherhood and gender-based setbacks such as the perceived "glass ceiling" (that women and minorities can't advance past a certain point in their places of work) often lead to women having fewer promotions, pay rises and bonuses. The new gender pay gap data revealed men often received much larger bonuses than female employees at the same company.

Details from the story:

  • Companies with more than 250 employees are required by law to reveal how much they pay men and women in a rare drive towards greater pay transparency.
  • The figures for 2018 revealed that 78 percent of responding businesses paid men more.
  • Fourteen percent women were higher paid.
  • The initiative has spawned the social media hashtag #PayMeToo, the equal pay equivalent of the #MeToo movement.
  • Politician Jo Swinson says there's no "intrinsic" reason men should be paid more overall than women.
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