Mind the Gap: Pay Equity and the Gender Pay Gap

14 October 2019

To ensure women are treated fairly in the workplace, emphasis is now being placed on compulsory reporting of gender pay gaps to drive compliance from companies. The gender pay gap measures the difference in average hourly pay between men and women. The gender pay gap is a good high-level indicator of inequalities in remuneration, progression and rewards. It is different to equal pay, which means you must pay men and women the same amount for the same or similar work.

UK Equality and Human Rights Commission

In 2017, the UK Government introduced compulsory gender pay gap reporting for all employers with 250 or more staff members. Legislated under the Equality Act 2010, the requirement for employers to report their gender pay gap data was enforced by the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

By August 2019, over 10,500 had reported on the government portal, achieving 100% compliance. This was achieved through use of the Commission’s enforcement powers which included warning letters and investigations.

The reporting revealed that the median pay gap is currently at 11.9 percent; highlighting that although it is nearly 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in the UK, inequality in the workplace still exists.

The second stage to the EHRC’s enforcement work is to check the accuracy of reported gender pay gap figures.

This blog by EHRC Chief Executive, Rebecca Hilsenrath, outlines how the NHRI achieved 100% compliance.

You can read the EHRC’s report into the Gender Pay Gap here.

More information about the EHRC’s work on pay gaps, including ethnicity and disability pay gaps can be found here.

New Zealand Human Rights Commission

The New Zealand Human Rights Commission has started a campaign to end pay secrecy in New Zealand. The NHRI is calling for companies with 100 or more employees to publically report on their gender pay gap and for an independent agency to be established to monitor compliance. They are also interested in including monitoring of the ethnic and disability pay gaps.

The NZHRC is collecting signatures for a petition calling on the Government to include this proposal for pay transparency in legislation. So far, more than 2200 people have signed the petition. As part of this campaign, four women have shared how they have missed out on promotions or been made to work harder for it because of their gender, colour or ethnicity.

So far 15 organisations in New Zealand including Unions and NGO’s have publicly endorsed the campaign.

Read more about the campaign here: https://www.demandpaytransparency.org.nz/

Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canada has recently appointed its first Pay Equity Commissioner, Karen Jensen. The Commissioner’s role includes a mandate to provide independent oversight over the administration and enforcement of the Pay Equity Act; education in understanding rights and obligations; facilitating disputes related to pay equity; and, dealing with complaints of discrimination related to pay equity under the Canadian Human Rights Act in workplaces with fewer than 10 federally related employees. The Commissioner will be housed within the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC).

CHRC Chief Commissioner, Marie-Claude Landry, highlighted the significance of this development, stating that: “Fundamental inequalities in pay still exist for far too many workers in Canada. The new Pay Equity Commissioner will help ensure that everyone within federal jurisdiction receives equal pay for work of equal value. It will benefit not only individuals and families, but the Canadian economy and society as a whole.”

The new Commissioner will have dedicated funding and enforcement tools including the power to initiate audits, conduct investigations and issue orders and administrative monetary penalties.

Read more about this appointment, here.

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