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The BBC's Nicola Carslaw
"In banking women managers earn 38% less than men"
 real 56k

Thursday, 16 November, 2000, 15:54 GMT
Bosses kid themselves about equal pay
Workers in a factory
Women workers earn an average of 18% less than men
Bosses who believe they pay male and female employees at an equal rate are kidding themselves, according to an Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) survey.

A poll of 300 companies showed 93% were confident that their pay systems are unbiased and do not need to be changed - but women workers still earn an average hourly rate of 18% less than their male counterparts.

For some this means a gap in earnings of 381,000 during the course of a career.

A fair deal?
80% of workers never ask colleagues how much they earn
20% of employees have no idea how much other staff in the same company are paid
Young people were "shocked" to realise that a pay gap opens up by the age of 20
Britain came 10th out of 15 European countries for its equal pay record

Despite a 100% increase in the number of equal pay cases taken to employment tribunals since 1995, the gap in pay between men and women narrowed by just 1% in 1999, said EOC chairwoman Julie Mellor.

Employers' confidence was "misplaced" and many were doing "little or nothing" to ensure women workers are paid the same rates as men, according to the research.

"We need a concerted effort by all employers in all sectors to speed up the pace of change," she said.

"This research shows that although some employers are taking steps to achieve gender equality in pay, many others are not doing enough and some are not doing anything at all."

The research split employers into four categories:

  • Committed - who have taken steps to ensure their pay systems are unbiased, including the National Health Service, police and local authorities.

  • Concerned - who realise they have not done enough to ensure their pay systems are unbiased.

  • Contradictory - who have improved their pay systems without taking the gender of employees into account.

  • Complacent - who do not believe pay inequality is a problem.

The survey showed that employers in the manufacturing industry were the most complacent about equal pay.

The pay gap is widest in craft and related occupations and lowest in secretarial work.

The EOC will present the government with its recommendations for closing the gap early in 2001.

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See also:

25 May 00 | Business
Action urged on pay gap
25 May 00 | UK
'Long delay for equal pay'
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