It’s Equal Pay Day – the financial double whammy facing women

Today is the year when, because of the gender pay gap, women are effectively working for free for the rest of the year. Data from the Fawcett Society shows that the gender pay gap this year is 11.3%, slightly down on last year.

This arises for several reasons. Despite legislation outlawing this being passed more than half a century ago. women are often paid less than men for work of equal value.

Women also suffer from unfair barriers to career advancement because they are more likely to have caring responsibilities. This could be addressed by requiring employers to allow more flexible ways of working.

The Fawcett Society has produced a briefing which outlines the extent of the gender pay gap and makes recommendations to reduce it. They call for:

Improve pay gap reporting by:
Introducing mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting for employers
Requiring employers to publish action plans to tackle their pay gaps, so that
real action is taken toreduce pay inequality with accountability and
transparency built in

Lowering the threshold for pay gap reporting to 100 employees, bringing the UK closer to the standards set by other countries

Require employers to offer flexible work arrangements as default and advertise jobs with flexibility built-in

Reform the childcare system to increase affordability whilst ensuring our children get the best start in life

Ban questions about salary history during recruitment and require salary bands to be displayed on job advertisements

Introduce a free standing and legally enforceable ‘Right to Know’ what a male colleague is paid for equal work

Not only are women at the sharp end of the Gender Pay Gap, but they are also being disproportionately affected by the cost of living crisis. Scottish feminist organisation Engender has produced a report on this, calling for targeted support for women on low incomes, particularly those with caring responsibilities who are likely to have higher energy needs. They explain why this contributes to greater inequality between men and women:

Across the board, women’s incomes are lower than those of men. Women have less access to well-paid and secure work, women are more reliant on social security entitlements that are not keeping pace with the rate of inflation and subject to ideological cuts, women have less access to pensions, womendo not have equal access to resources within households and are subjected to men’s violence, and women are lone parents, primary caregivers for children and unpaid carers for disabled and older people. Women’s poverty is also inextricably linked with
child poverty.

In an ideal world, a progressive government would address this, using employment law, the social security system and a radical reform of childcare affordability and provision.

We shouldn’t forget the role of the Liberal Democrats in securing the current gender pay gap reporting rules. Jo Swinson drove this through amidst Conservative opposition at the tail end of the coalition, despite future Conservative ministers trying to claim the credit. Back in 2018,  we reported how Jo challenged Conservative minister Victoria Atkin on this point.

The reason why I fought so hard as a Minister in the coalition Government to win the battle to introduce gender pay gap reporting—despite the Minister’s obvious commitment to this today, my goodness it was a battle with No.10 at the time—is that the visibility and transparency of hard numbers help to pierce the bubble of complacency in boardrooms, in newsrooms and in our living rooms where some people still think that we live in a world of gender equality.

What concrete action are the Government taking to help employers understand that the gender pay gap is about unequal pay and so much more? It is about the fact that jobs in care and other roles are undervalued and low paid because they are predominantly done by women. It is about the 54,000 women a year who lose their job because they have a baby. It is about the toxic workplace cultures where the boys’ clubs make the decisions and sexual harassment is endemic. Time is up on pathetic excuses. It is time that organisations got serious about action.

There’s so much more to be done until Equal Pay Day is where it should be – December 31st.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

Read more by or more about , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

2 Comments

  • Ruth Bright 22nd Nov '22 - 2:30pm

    Caron, 25 years ago I got my first job for a charity as a Dementia Advice Worker. It paid £21,000 per annum. The same job still pays £21,000 per annum. Perhaps it is not entirely coincidental that 88% of people who work in dementia care are female.

  • @Ruth – I suspect you don’t have the comparable figures for that specific charity’s chief executive’s pay…
    It’s something, I’ve seen again recently, with third sector organisations saying they have to pay more to attract (executive) ‘talent’ (male or female), yet fail to attend to the needs of their staff; expecting them to give more ‘voluntary’ hours, so that they can keep costs down…

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Helen Dudden
    Restricting heating wont help. Black mould has been a culture in the many years of social housing. The lack of repairs, housing that was not that great to st...
  • Geoff Reid
    As a Methodist my instincts are usually to avoid interfering in private grief. However while the influence of bishops in the Lords may be marginal, this is grea...
  • Mick Taylor
    I rather fear that this sort of casual racism is far more common that any of us like to admit. I remember canvassing in a by-election that the BNP won. I, perh...
  • Mary ReidMary Reid
    When my mother was in her 90s and suffering from Alzheimer's I took in a photo of Obama and explained that he was the new US President. "Oh, he's a negro!" she ...
  • expats
    I clicked on a link to 'Petsy' Wyatt, it took me to the 'Mail' comments page; 'nuff said'!...