On Equal Pay

This week some media outlets incorrectly reported that Iceland was the first county to legislate for equal pay. The UK passed the Equal Pay Act in 1970 and other countries, including Iceland, already have legislation in place. The Equal Pay Act, replicated in the Equality Act 2010 decrees that men and women performing work of equal value should receive the same pay.

I began working for the UK Government, in 2000. Others doing the same job, some with a lower workload, received a higher salary. It was, and is, considered acceptable to increase salaries in line with experience and length of service. It is also considered acceptable to advertise jobs without stating the salary. Companies know the market rate for the skill set required. They know how much the last person in the role was paid, and they know how much they are budgeting for. Yet they are allowed to negotiate a lower salary for specific candidates.

Instead of enforcing equal pay, the UK government requires companies with more than 250 employees to publish details of their gender pay gap. This merely gives the average pay for each gender in the company. If the CEO is male and the cleaners are female there will be a variance. Some media outlets confuse this with equal pay and discrimination and criticise organisations that have not done anything wrong.

Two people doing the same job for the same organisation in the same location should be paid the same. This principle is in the Equality Act and the way to achieve equal pay is not to waste time and money on irrelevant reports. but to use that Act to prosecute those who fail to respect it.

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