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Survey highlights low employer awareness on equal pay

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While statistics show that full-time female employees still earn only 80 per cent of the average hourly wage of full-time male employees, most employers remain unconvinced that equal pay is a workplace issue.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s (CIPD) latest membership survey on salary and reward reveals that most organisations do not believe that they have an equal pay problem. Sixty one per cent of say that they do not perceive that they have a problem, while 36 per cent concede that equal pay is an issue for the organisation.

Where employers have taken action, union and employee pressure has been the main driver of change. The threat of legal action is reported by only 16 per cent of respondents.

Commenting on the findings, Dianah Worman, the CIPD’s Adviser on Equal Opportunities, said: “This survey tells us that there is a real lack of awareness around equal pay and little understanding of the Equal Opportunity Commission’s (EOC) code of practice.

“Frustration over the slow progress in closing the pay gap is now leading to calls for compulsory action. While the CIPD is not in favour of this approach, it wholeheartedly supports the EOC’s position. Action on equal pay should be taken for sound business reasons – lack of attention to this issue undermines an organisation’s ability to realise the full potential of all its employees, which in turn can only have a negative impact on communication, culture and performance.”

The data for the survey was collected as a CIPD special section of the Reward Group/CIPD 2000 salary survey. There were 1900 responses from HR practitioners from both the public and private sectors.

Key findings:


  • Few organisations have taken action to rectify differences in male and female earnings – of those respondents that reported that their organisations had a pay problem, just 34 per cent say they had taken any action to rectify the situation.
  • Sixty one per cent of respondents say that pressure from unions is the main driver for action being taken, second most important is employee pressure at 35 per cent. Threat of legal action is reported by only 16 per cent of respondents.
  • Pay auditing is not an uncommon practice – 38 per cent of respondents say that their organisations do carry out pay auditing, while 53 per cent say they did not.
  • In most organisations general information on male and female earnings is available – 61 per cent of respondents say that general (not individual) pay information was available to the organisation.
  • Two-thirds of organisations have an equal pay policy – 64 per cent of respondents report that their organisation has an equal pay policy, while 31 per cent do not have an equal pay policy.
  • Over 60 per cent of organisations regularly communicate their equal pay policy to managers and employees – 61 per cent regularly communicate their equal pay policy compared to 31 per cent that do not.
  • Less than a quarter of organisations use the EOC Equal Pay Code – 23 per cent say that they use the Code. 49 per cent say that they do not and 28 per cent do not know if their organisation use the Code or not.

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