Government’s gender pay gap consultation closes

The government consultation on gender pay gap reporting closed to responses on 6 September, after launching on 14 July.

The aim of the consultation is to establish the details of the government’s plans to make it compulsory for large employers to publish the average salaries of male and female staff.  


Its plans, which were first announced in March, will apply to organisations with more than 250 employees in an attempt to bridge the gender pay gap.           

Research by Employee Benefits’ sister brand Econsultancy, published in July 2015, found that male general marketeers earn 21% more than their female counterparts, and that male digital marketing specialists are paid an average of £47,247, which is £7,182 (15%) more than female counterparts.      

Meanwhile, the Women in digitareport by digital recruitment agency The Candidate, which was also published in July, revealed that women working in the digital industry earn 9% less than their male counterparts on average.

Clearly, the gender pay gap is a workplace dilemma that cannot be ignored, and one that the government hopes compulsory pay gap reporting will go some way to address. 

Duncan Brown, head of HR consulting at the Institute for Employment Studies, said: “It reflects action by the European Commission at the turn of the year asking member governments to report on what they are doing to promote gender pay transparency, and action by the Liberal Democrats in the dying weeks of the coalition in March to insert a clause into the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act. This requires the government to implement section 78, compulsory reporting, within 12 months.

“It’s been 40 years since the Equal Pay Act, so the government’s measures to try and create a more productive economy free of gender inequality and gender pay gaps is not new. And it does of course mean that employers which pay women less then men for doing similar work or work of similar value on account of their gender, directly or indirectly, are breaking the law.”

There are many reasons why the gender pay gap is currently so wide. ”Is it down to a lack of women at senior levels in high-paid jobs which skews the overall comparator figure, implying perhaps a need to address career pathing and career progression barriers such as childcare?” said Brown. ”Or does it stem from longer average service profiles for men and links between pay progression and length of service, another common cause of higher male pay? Or is it down to men negotiating higher salaries on recruitment, shown in a number of research studies, and possibly requiring more control and less flexibility in setting starting salaries?

”Nobody thinks gender pay reporting will do this on its own. But improving pay transparency should help stimulate perceptions of fairer and non-discriminatory pay systems among employers with no gender pay gaps; and encourage measures to address gaps by those employers that do discover a significant pay difference.”