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Gender pay gains momentum

25 August 2016


This week’s interesting read for me is ‘The Gender Wage Gap’, just published by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. It’s a much shorter and prettier read than the earlier version (published over 10 years ago), but unfortunately the gender wage gap hasn’t experienced the same level of positive change.

The study itself has received some great press coverage over the past few days, which is fantastic for raising awareness and increasing the appetite for the forthcoming gender pay legislation.

I’m still digesting the findings, but one of the most interesting developments for me is the link to women returning to work after childbirth.

Previous studies have shown us that women’s wages plateau from their late 20s and early 30s (while men’s wages tend to grow rapidly at this point) - but this new study links this directly to the arrival of children. After the first child arrives, they claim the gap broadens so much so that by the time the first child reaches 12 years of age, women’s hourly wages are a third below men’s. That’s shocking, and has brought about the new term “mummy tax”.

Some of this will be attributed to time out of the work place and part-time working, which many working mothers utilise as the solution to balancing work and home life. The study claims that women who work under 20 hours a week see less growth in wages, on average, than other women.

So whilst I may have historically admired and applauded employers who encourage part time working arrangements, this statistic is no longer sufficient. We need to ensure that our part time employees are not unfairly disadvantaged as a result.

The extent to which the up and coming legislation will address this is up for debate, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction and one which I’m hoping many businesses will seize as an opportunity to review their gender pay position.

If you want any help with this, I’d love to hear from you. The Maritime HR Association is coordinated by a team of HR professionals with compensation backgrounds. So we can help with the analysis and solutions.

Sarah Hutley, Compensation & Benefits Consultant, +44 (0)1702 480142, shutley@spinnaker-global.com