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New pressures for equal pay reviews

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Women graduates are still going cheap, according to the Equal Opportunities Commission. They can expect to be earning 15% less than men before they reach the age of 24, according to the early findings of research commissioned by the EOC. The gap between women’s and men’s average salary gets progressively wider among older graduates.

The EOC is joining forces with the NUS to tell students across Britain about the pay gap and to encourage them to ask potential employers what they are doing about equal pay. Julie Mellor, Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, said: “If employers want to recruit the brightest and the best in future, they are going to have to be able to prove that they provide equal pay. If an employer cannot show they take equal pay seriously, students might well ask themselves how much they value their staff. We know employers don’t set out to cheat women – most pay discrimination is a hidden problem. That is precisely why employers need to review their pay systems to make sure they are not shortchanging women.”

Owain James, NUS National President said: “The evidence shows that despite equal and often better academic success, the disparity in pay still exists between male and female graduates. Nearly half of all students said a commitment to equal pay from an employer would influence their choice of job – it’s time to make sure that employers respond to the EOC campaign.”

The majority of students expect to have the same earnings in five or ten years as members of the opposite sex who have similar experience and do similar jobs, according to research conducted for the EOC in 1999. Forty-nine per cent of students (71% of women, 23% of men) said that an employer’s commitment to provide equal pay would influence their choice of job.

The EOC recently set a target for fifty per cent of large employers (those with more than 500 workers) to have carried out a pay review* by the end of 2003. If its targets are not met there will be increasing pressure for a requirement on employers to do pay reviews.

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