Accountants back new gender pay gap law

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Some of the largest accounting firms have welcomed a new law that hopes to reduce differences between how much men and women are paid.

Companies that fail to address pay differences between male and female workers will be named in new league tables under plans announced by the government. Those with more than 250 employees will be required to reveal their pay gap.

The regulations will affect 8,000 employers in the UK, the government said.

Employers will need to start calculating the pay gap from April 2017 – one year before the first tables being published.

Women in the UK still earn on average 20% less than men, according to official figures.

Companies will have to publish the number of men and women in each pay range – to highlight where the pay gap is biggest and needs to be tackled.

Every employer must publish their gender pay gap on their website. Companies will have to report every year, and senior executives will be expected to personally sign this off.

“In recent years we’ve seen the best employers make ground breaking strides in tackling gender inequality,” said Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women and Equalities. "But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace.”

David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive at Deloitte UK, said: “Being able to access information about a company’s gender pay gap will enable people to make better informed decision about potential employers, while companies will also be able to consider gender pay when selecting suppliers.” 

Deloitte’s gender pay gap in 2015 was 17.8%, he said.

By 2020, Deloitte wants one quarter of its partners to be women, and 30% by 2030.

Gaenor Bagley, head of people and executive board member at PwC, said that the new law shouldn't be about naming and shaming organisations but “using the gender pay gap analysis to understand why they have a gap in the first place and coming up with actions to solve the gap.”

She said that the government needs to be clear about the information companies need to report so that "useful comparisons can be made across sectors and companies."

The Confederation of British Industry said that the data would only give a partial picture on differences between men and women employees’ salaries due to factors such as the “mix of part-time and full [time] working and sectoral differences.”

About Nick Huber

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I’m a specialist business journalist and have a particular interest in tax and technology. 


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15th Feb 2016 15:18

Is this realistic, or just more political correctness?

This approach is too simplistic. Employees should be paid according to their ability, and, their value to the business, and there a lot of things to be considered. 

Qualifications are of course one consideration, how hard the employee works and how efficient they are is another, but, like it or not and regardless of political correctness, gender does also have a role to play in these decisions, more so in smaller organisations. 

The simple fact is that younger women are more likely to start a family and take vast amounts of time off, they are less likely to stay with an employer because if their husband moves they go with him, they are more likely to need time off to care for children with childhood diseases.

This makes them far less valuable as assets of the business, and, in the case of small businesses, could leave the business with huge additional expense to cover such things as maternity leave.

Surely each employer should be free to offer what they think an employee is worth to them, and it's up to the employee to accept the offer or go elsewhere. Imposing pay levels on companies could be the straw that breaks the camels back in the case of smaller businesses. 

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16th Feb 2016 08:46

Personally I don't think
I have ever been paid less than a male doing the same job as me. Many of my friends have very senior roles within companies and earn a lot of money, are women, and don't think that they are paid less either than their male equivalents. Perhaps there are anomalies in some industries but I have yet to come across them myself. We don't see the data behind these studies, are they comparing the same jobs, or is it because some women have chosen to take a step back to follow a different path? That's what I did for a few years before I started my own practice. As aweb reader says, it is too simplistic to say that there is a gender pay gap, without further detail.

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17th Feb 2016 15:24

Due to the secrecy nobody really knows

Do you know what your male or female colleagues earn?

In large business it is very rare to know what your colleagues earn, and this can lead to pay gaps that aren't always reflective of the competency of the employees, but nobody questions it because they are not aware of it, ie. do the equally competent women know for sure whether they are being paid the same, or less, than the equally competent men?

A good example is employers who assume all females will need maternity leave, and reduce their pay (and available training) automatically, even if they are career women who never have children. Maybe, if men start taking paternity leave and sharing in the child care then discrimination against females will reduce. 

I think publishing the pay gap is a step forward and it will not include the employees name, so individual remuneration will still be private. It won't fix the problem, but it will hopefully result in questions being asked, and then dealt with.


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17th Feb 2016 18:20

Hi shirley
But that's the point, we don't know whether there is a "real" pay gap or not, you say in large companies it is rare to know what your male colleagues earn, but that's not provable either is it? I know there are male chauvinist industries that exist, I am not saying that there isn't a problem of some sort, but in nearly 30 years of working life, I just haven't come across it, and I have worked for many years in the motor trade / milk industry, which are (or were) male dominated, I had access to the payroll, and my salary was exactly the same as my male colleagues. As you say, we need "real" data, and I have certainly never comes across any company paying a woman less because they think she may go on maternity leave. I think the problem lies more so with smaller businesses perhaps ( and just from my own personal experience) since I have been in practice, one or two male business owners have commented that they wouldn't want to take on a woman of child bearing age - which of course is absolutely wrong and I have commented back to that effect. In fact when I was employed in the motor trade, the execs decided to pursue a positive discrimination policy to attract female sales staff, and as a woman I find that quite insulting. We are getting there, we all need to look out for each other, but by jumping on the bandwagon without any facts to back it up, is self defeating imho.

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17th Feb 2016 22:00

I'm pleased for you - count yourself lucky!

I was in charge of accounts and payroll systems for a large national company for many years, and I know there wasn't anything close to equality. It was many years ago, but the law regarding sex discrimination was in force.

My experiences, and factual knowledge, have taught me the opposite. There is a lot of discrimination against women. You only have to look at many of the comments on AWeb to see that.

If someone made similar comments about ethnic minorities, or some some other minority group, rather than the 50% of the population comprised of women, there would be an uproar but few people care or even acknowledge that sex discrimination is still very prevalent in our society.

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