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Employers sceptical about Government’s ‘superficial’ gender pay plans

22 December 2016

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Companies with 250 or more employees will soon be required to give average pay and bonuses data for men and women.

However, employers have told researchers from Cardiff University, the University of Exeter and the University of Bath that they were concerned they would not be given the time to understand or prepare for the change.

Although some companies said that they were actively making preparations to undertake a pay analysis, others said that they were worried that the proposals did not require an accompanying narrative to explain how pay gaps come about, how the figures were going to be compiled and therefore whether publishing aggregate figures would give a fair and true reflection of the position. There have also been difficulties in defining what pay includes.

The study has been undertaken as part of a research collaboration facilitated by the GW4 Alliance, which brings together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK; the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.

Private sector employers in Wales can draw upon learning from the Women Adding Value to Economy (WAVE) research programme, which has assisted public sector employers to undertake a more detailed analysis so that they could see how gender divides in the workforce by job types, working hours and employment contracts leads to gender pay gaps. Under the Welsh Government’s specific equality duties on pay differences, public sector employers are also required to draw up action plans to address the causes of employment and pay gaps.

“The GW4 research has shown that private sector employers want to understand and explain why they have pay gaps but currently the proposed regulations do not require this."

Dr Alison Parken Lecturer in Management, Employment and Organisation

Dr Alison Parken, Senior Research Fellow at Cardiff Business School and Director of WAVE, said: "I believe they should as our experience in the public sector in Wales shows employers will act to make change once they have the evidence to show what is happening their own organisation.”

GW4 experts interviewed employers, and ran an on-line survey, which was completed by 150 HR managers across all industries. They spoke to HR managers in 20 organisations of different sizes within the public, private and third sectors.

GW4 Director, Dr Sarah Perkins, said: “Collaboration is at the heart of what we do at the GW4 Alliance, enabling our research communities to tackle critical health, societal and environmental challenges..."

"These findings shed light on one of the most pressing inequality issues of our generation and will hopefully have a real impact in shaping government policy.”

Dr Sarah Perkins GW4 Director

This month the government published their response to a recent consultation on draft regulations likely to come into law. MPs still need to give their approval.

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Bringing together four of the most research-intensive and innovative universities in the UK; the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter.