More than 40 years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, there remains a significant pay gap between men and women in full-time employment. The Fawcett Society used the latest figures from the ONS to analyse the average full-time hourly earnings for men and women in 2014. Their findings revealed women are paid on average 14.2% less an hour than men. Based on this, it was calculated that 9 November 2015 was ‘Equal Pay Day’ – this is effectively the day on which women begin working for free until the rest of the year, given the difference in pay.
Women continue to face discrimination in the workplace, whether in the form of lower pay, the ‘glass ceiling’ or unfavourable practices and attitudes towards issues such as pregnancy and maternity leave. Sadly, in practice we are finding that these issues are still prevalent in all sectors. The fact that women are being paid less than men for doing the exact same work is a poignant reminder of this.
Earlier this year David Cameron vowed to eliminate the gender pay gap “within a generation” and has proceeded with plans to force large firms to disclose data on the gender pay gap amongst staff.
The legal sector is trying to do its bit to help with reducing gender pay inequalities. Yesterday on Equal Pay Day, the Law Society unveiled its equal pay guidance for law firms and it is aimed at anyone involved with the management of a law firm. The Equal Pay toolkit, which can be found on the Law Society website, aims to help firms identify risk areas, carry out impact assessments on changes to pay systems, prevent victimisation and carry out an equal pay audit.
Positive steps are therefore being made but it is clear that much more needs to be done to ensure that there is equality between men and women when it comes to pay, and not just in the legal sector!