COMMONS

Gender pay gap inquiry launched

04 November 2015

Women and Equalities Committee launch an inquiry to inform Government strategy on reducing the gender pay gap, focusing on women aged over 40. The Chair and Committee speaks to Radio 4's Woman's Hour at 10am on 4 November 2015 for the launch.

Background

The Government announces its proposals to tackle the gender pay gap in early 2016. However, despite extensive evidence that the gender pay gap affects women aged over 40 the most, the Government’s recent announcements devote surprisingly little attention to the issues faced by this particular group.

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.

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Maria Miller said:

"The gender pay gap is mainly a problem for women over 40, and currently hits women in their 50s even harder. However, the measures already announced by the Government don't target this group. Our inquiry aims to fill this gap in Government thinking.  We’ll be asking about barriers to promotion; recruitment and training; problems facing women in predominantly female sectors and non-professional roles – and much more. Our inquiry will make recommendations that will tackle the gender pay gap where it hits the hardest."

Government strategy

Key policies that the Government has already announced include:

  • every company with more than 250 employees being required by law to publish the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees
  • new steps to compel larger employers to publish bonus information by gender
  • gender pay reporting rules being extended to include the public sector, as well as private and voluntary organisations 

Written submissions

This inquiry will focus on three key areas:

  1. How effective will the Government’s proposals announced so far be in reducing the gender pay gap faced by women aged over 40?
  2. Are there changes to these proposals that would help to reduce the gender pay gap for this group more quickly or effectively? 
  3. What could be done to improve the position of women aged over 40 regarding recruitment, retention, promotion and training?

Written evidence should be submitted addressing the themes outlined above, and the following specific issues to the Committee by 11pm on Sunday 6 December 2015.

  • 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? 

Send a written submission: Gender pay gap - written submission form

Guidance on submitting written evidence

The Committee welcomes evidence from as wide a range of people as possible. If you've never submitted evidence to a committee our guidance will help you through the process.

Further information 

Image: iStockphoto

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