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Partner and Head of Family Law, Rugby
The Gender Pay Gap has caused controversy among many and has been the topic of countless debates. It seems that the inequality in pay may be down to more than just direct discrimination, but due to a lack of salary increases for part time workers.
Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies (“IFS”) found that the disparity in earnings between women and men is due to the fact many women work part time in order to look after their children. Women tend to have an increased role in childcare commitments and as such many women work part time or reduced hours. This is not to say that men do not play an active role in the raising of children, but it is generally women who take career breaks or reduce their hours in order to take care of their children.
The IFS has found that “by the time the first child is aged 12, women’s hourly wages are a third below men’s.” It is thought that the decrease in hours limits the opportunities women have to progress and means they miss out on experience related salary increases. Many families are unable to have both parents working full time due to the high cost of child care, resulting in many women working part time. It seems that this may have had a significant impact on the Gender Pay Gap being the size it is.
However, this is not the sole reason for the Gender Pay Gap and there are a number of factors which contribute to it. It is however, food for thought and something which the Government may wish to look into if they are ever going to achieve equality in earnings.
The recent news regarding Tesco shows the level of cost and risk potential equal pay claims may have on employers. These types of claims and negative publicity are only going to become more frequent, so employers may want to consider their current salaries and whether these are equal.