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Greater action needed to achieve gender pay equality as new figures show gap narrowing very slowly

Figures from the 2017 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), published today by the Office for National Statistics, paint a mixed picture of shifts in the UK’s various pay gaps, according to Gerwyn Davies, Senior Labour Market Analyst at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development.

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The survey data indicates that there has been a welcome narrowing in the median gender pay gap for full time employees, with gap now down to 9.1% from 9.4% last year.

Arguing that employers and the Government should draw lessons from the new figures, Davies comments:

“Despite good news on the gender pay gap, the latest ASHE shows that there is much more to do in order to deliver genuine pay equality. This is particularly true when we consider that relatively few women work full time and that women as a whole still tend to be concentrated in low-paid sectors of the economy; especially among the over 30s.

“It is clear that the gender pay reporting requirements need to be accompanied by a more analytical review of why the equal pay gap exists in organisations and what practical steps can be taken to tackle it.  In many cases, a greater drive to increase uptake of flexible working opportunities from government and employers will be required if we are to make further inroads into the equal pay gap.  As the ONS points out, the gap is relatively small up to the age of 40, which is likely to be connected with patterns of return to work after having children.

“The data also give a political mandate to the Chancellor for taking a more lenient stance on public sector pay given that the annual figures show that the full-time earnings of public sector workers (+0.9%) continue to lag substantially behind those of private sector workers (2.8%).”