Are the ‘Gender Pay Gap’ and ‘Equal Pay’ the Same Thing?

02 April 2019

Although the gender pay gap and equal pay both relate to pay disparity between men and women, they are not the same thing. The gender pay gap is the difference in average pay between men and women across the whole of an organisation, while equal pay requires men and women to receive the same pay for carrying out like work, or work of equal value.

The Gender Pay Gap Explained

The gender pay gap is the difference in pay between men and women across an organisation, regardless of their role. The gender pay gap illustrates which organisations pay workers of one gender more, on average, than workers of the other gender.

In the UK, the gender pay gap for full-time workers has been shown to be in favour of men, and this is the same across all occupations. This means that on average, men working in large organisations are being paid more than women. This doesn't mean that men are being paid more than women for carrying out the same role – this is equal pay. Instead, it means that there are more men in higher paying, senior roles, and more women in lower paying, more junior positions.

In order to monitor the gender pay gap, increase awareness and improve pay equality, the government introduced gender pay gap reporting regulations. The regulations, which came into effect on 5 April 2017, require large organisations to calculate and publish details of the gender pay gap within their workforce. Since this date, all employers with 250 or more employees have been legally obligated to calculate and publish details of their gender pay gap each year.

The information that they must publish includes:

  • The mean and median gender pay gap for hourly wages
  • The mean and median gender pay gap for bonus payments
  • The proportion of men and women receiving a bonus payment
  • The proportion of men and women in each quartile pay band

This information is then used to calculate the gender pay gap across the UK. This figure is displayed as a percentage.

The gender pay gap among all UK employees for 2017-18 stood at 17.9%. This means that women are paid, on average, 17.9% less than men. This is across all workers in all industries, including both full time and part time workers, and is attributed to the fact that more women work in part-time jobs which have a lower hourly rate on average than full time jobs. When looking only at those working in full time roles, the gender pay gap is lower, at 8.6%.

The ultimate aim of the gender pay gap reporting regulations is to highlight this issue with a view to closing the gap all together.

Equal Pay Explained

Equal pay is the right of men and women to be paid the same for carrying out the same (or equivalent) work, called like work or work of equal value. It is illegal to pay men and women different amounts for the same job, and this law is set out in the Equality Act 2010.

The purpose of the Equality Act 2010 is to protect people from discrimination on the basis of 9 protected characteristics, one of which is gender. Under the Equality Act 2010, workers have a contractual right to receive equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.

The same also applies to other contractual terms of employment, including holiday entitlement, bonuses, pension contributions, etc.

The provisions for equal pay apply to both men and women in the same way and all employers must provide equal pay regardless of the organisation's size.

Equal work can be defined in three ways:

  • Like work – this is work that is the same, or broadly similar (requiring the same skillset and involving similar tasks)
  • Equivalent work – this is work that is rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study or scheme (requiring an equivalent level of skill, responsibility and effort, for example)
  • Work of equal value – this is work that is not similar or equivalent, but is of equal value in terms of effort, skill and decision making

Equal Pay Claim Dispute Solicitors

At Co-op Legal Services, we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we believe that discrimination based on someone's gender is unacceptable. You have every right to insist on equal pay compared to colleagues who are performing the same (or equivalent) work. If you believe that you are not being paid equally, our Employment Solicitors can help with your equal pay dispute.

We can negotiate with your employer on your behalf to rectify any inequality of your contractual terms. We will protect your interests and protect your relationship with your employer while ensuring that your right to equal pay is honoured.

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