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Compulsory reporting will not close the gender pay gap, says law firm

5 April 2019

Compulsory gender pay reporting will not eliminate the discrepancy in salaries between men and women, according to law firm Prettys. 

Since 2018, companies with 250 or more employees have had to report their gender pay gaps at the end of their financial year. Almost nine in 10 (88.5%) of public sector organisations have shown a pay gap in favour of men.

With new employment law regulations set to come into force on 6 April 2019, Prettys said the gap between men and women will only narrow if employers start to recognise the structural and cultural issues that need to be addressed.

Matthew Cole, employment partner, Prettys, said: “Perhaps the main reason there is a pay gap is the fact that workplaces have still not made the necessary adjustments to allow women to pick up their careers effectively following a break for maternity leave or to bring up children.”

Cole said that whilst employers are making increasing efforts to put in place family-friendly working policies, these often take years to bear fruit. Despite the introduction of shared parental leave in 2015, records show that women still take far more leave than men.

Cole added: “In our experience SPL is hardly ever taken up by men. There are many reasons why this could be, including society’s expectations or that men do not actually want the time off, choosing instead to disrupt just one career instead of two. There are also other cultural issues. There is evidence that men may over-value their worth, whilst women under-value their contribution. This means that men may push harder for career and pay progression when compared to an equally competent woman.”

Recruitment issues

Vanessa Bell, partner and head of employment, Prettys (pictured), cautioned that a significant difference between earnings could impact future recruitment.

Bell commented: “I think decision-makers have to look at the gender pay gap from a business perspective not just out of a legal duty. It’s all well and good a business revealing its pay gap, but if these businesses don’t take action to address it, they could lose out on recruiting or retaining good staff.”

The firm’s warning follows the release of figures that found despite the firms having to legally disclose the pay difference between their employees, the gap between salaries in the public sector widened in 2018.

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