The Women and Equalities Select Committee announced on 4 November 2015 its inquiry into the Government’s the Government’s strategy for reducing the gender pay gap. In particular, it was to focus on women over 20.
The gap between all male and female employees currently stands at 19.1% (2014), measured by median gross hourly pay, excluding overtime. For all full time employees the gender pay gap is 9.4%, but there are wide variations by age and sector.
Younger women, from 18-39, in full-time work experience a very low or even reversed gender pay gap. ONS data shows the gap for hourly earnings growing from the age of 40 onwards. It is greatest for women in their 50s. This is partly due to the fact that half of women over 50 work part-time, and hourly wages for part-time workers are significantly lower than those for full-time employees.
The gender pay gap is not confined to those working part-time though. Women over 50 working full-time earn 82% of what men of the same age working full-time earn. Some of this discrepancy is down to occupational segregation. At present, two-thirds of women aged over 50 are employed in just three sectors: education, health and retail.
The inquiry focused on three particular areas:
- How effective will the Government’s proposals announced so far be in reducing the gender pay gap faced by women aged over 40?
- Are there changes to these proposals that would help to reduce the gender pay gap for this group more quickly or effectively?
- What could be done to improve the position of women aged over 40 regarding recruitment, retention, promotion and training?
In particular, submissions were invited that addressed the following points:
- How adequate are the Government’s proposals for tackling the pay gap faced by women over 40? What additional measures would be most effective in reducing the pay differentials faced by this group?
- What actions would be most effective in improving recruitment, retention and re-training for women aged over 40?
- Is there any evidence that women aged over 40 face particular barriers to promotion? If so, what could be done to address this problem?
- Are there particular difficulties in narrowing the gender pay gap for women working in predominantly female sectors and non-professional roles? Are there any evidence-based measures which could effectively address these issues?
- Should the regulations on gender pay reporting be extended to organisations with fewer than 250 employees?
- Would voluntary measures regarding what employers do with gender pay gap information be sufficient to create change within organisations? What could be done to ensure that information about an organisation’s pay gap is translated into action?
- Which mechanisms would most effectively ensure that policies designed to narrow the gender pay gap are fully complied with? Is there evidence from other countries or policy areas of what might work best?
The Women and Equalities Committee published its report on Tuesday 22 March 2016, in which the CIPD’s submission was referenced on a number of occasions. Access the committee’s response.