The Equal Opportunities Commissions has, this morning, published its seminal taskforce report on Equal Pay - www.eoc.org.uk
The report, which is well worth reading for anybody practising in discrimination law, highlights the following issues:
• the gap between average hourly earnings for men and women working full-time has narrowed from 31% to 18%, but the gap between hourly earnings of women working part-time and men working full-time has hardly changed at all, it being 39%.
• the averages hide a stark contrast between earnings of professional women, which are rising, and the growing number of women trapped in part time, low paid jobs.
• average hourly earnings for women in some minority ethnic groups are lower still than for white women, and disabled women have lower average hourly earnings than women who are not disabled.
• the UK has the widest gender pay gap of all EC states.
The taskforce report identifies three main causes of unequal pay:
"Women now do as well as or even better than men in terms of educational achievement; the sexes enter higher education in equal proportions, and women’s employment is catching up with men’s (69%, compared to 79%). There are complex reasons why the gap in earnings persists despite this progress, which can be broken down into three areas:.
• sex discrimination in pay systems, which accounts for 25-50% of the gender pay gap...
• women are concentrated in low paid jobs such as shop assistants, teachers, secretaries and nurses
• women still take prime responsibility for childcare, so many go into part-time jobs, which are usually badly-paid
Finally, the report makes a number of recommendations (including changes to the law, changes to the tribunal system and employer training).
The full report will be available later in the year.