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Campaigners demand tougher action as gender pay gap narrows slightly

New research published by the Office of National Statistics last week has revealed that the overall gap between men and women’s pay has contracted. The gender pay gap narrowed between 2008 and 2009 by a modest 0.5%. However private sector figures in isolation showed an increase of 0.7 percent.  Part time figures have historically been in favour of women but new figures revealed this advantage had shrunk from -3.7% to -2%.

A full breakdown of the Office of National Statistics research and formulas can be found here:-

Office of National Statistics Survey

Despite the pay gap contracting 5% in the last decade campaigners say the progress is far too slow. They are calling for stronger laws to act as a deterrent to employers who pay women less for comparable work, such as banning secrecy clauses or introducing mandatory pay audits. In a press release issued by the TUC Brendan Barber welcomed the news of the progress but also renewed calls for tougher action.

"It shouldn't require a recession to make inroads into the gender pay gap. Employers are not going to close the pay gap of their own accord. The Government should introduce a range of strong measures to tackle discriminatory pay systems and occupational job segregation."

Harriet Harman, Minister for Women and Equality, also welcomed the narrowing of the overall gender pay gap but expressed disappointment at the gap worsening in the private sector.

"It's disappointing to see the private sector falling even further behind the public sector. Most women work part-time because they juggle the important work of looking after children and older relatives: that’s where the discrimination really bites. Its women working part-time who get clobbered with unequal pay."

While stronger laws and policies for employers could formulate part of the answer to closing the gap further, commentators argue that until the gender balance is not equal in the professions men and women choose it will always be a challenge to equalise pay.  Furthermore one other factor which could formulate part of solution to closing the pay gap is further study of how conjugal roles are shared or divided between men and women in society. Clearly this is strongly related to why so many women choose to work part time.

Posted by

Asif Yusuf

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