One in five UK young women – more than a million – say they have been paid less than male colleagues for the same or similar work. Not only is this illegal, but Young Women’s Trust, a charity that helps young women on low or no pay, has revealed that many employers are doing it knowingly. One in 10 HR decision-makers in organisations with more than 250 staff is aware of women in their organisation being paid less than men for jobs at the same level.
This comes as charities highlight the day that women effectively start working for free in comparison to men, due to lower pay. This year, ‘Equal Pay Day’ falls on Saturday 10 November to mark the fact that women are on average paid 13.7 per cent less than men. This gap has not changed much in recent years – and, in fact, has widened for young women.
Gender pay gap measurements reflect the fact that women are more likely to work in low-paid sectors such as care and cleaning and that they often hold more junior positions in the workplace – all of which is legal, albeit often based on discrimination and gender stereotypes.
Unequal pay, however, in which women are paid less than men for roles at the same level, is illegal. Despite Government reporting rules introduced this year, which exposed the gender pay gap in organisations across the country, many HR decision-makers admit they are aware that women in their workplace are paid less than men for roles at the same level.
More than half of young women surveyed by Young Women’s Trust said that they did not feel confident challenging their employer about the gender pay gap, while one in seven said they were disappointed by their employer’s efforts to close the gap.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: “Women face a gender pay gap from the moment they start work, and it is not budging.
“Young Women’s Trust research shows that young women apprentices earn eight per cent less than their male counterparts, leaving them more than £1,000 a year worse off. Often this is because the sectors women tend to work in – such as administration, health and social care and retail – are not valued and paid as much as they should be.
“Not only is there a huge job to do to close this legal gender pay gap, but still in 2018 we are fighting unequal pay, which has been illegal for nearly 50 years.