Today (14 November) is Equal Pay Day in the UK. It marks the day in the year when the average full-time working woman in the UK effectively stops earning compared to the average full-time working man.

All because of the gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is the difference between men and women’s average earnings. It's not the same as unequal pay, which is caused by employers paying men and women in the same job different pay. 

Equal pay has been a legal requirement since the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970.

Employers may have gender pay gaps for a variety of reasons, including the fact they have more women in junior roles, more women than men work part-time or in areas such as hospitality, retail or leisure that are less well paid.

According to the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics, the overall UK gender pay gap in 2019 is 17.3%, meaning that a woman, on average, earns around 82p for every £1 earned by a man.

Closing the gender pay gap is not an easy task, but in 2017 the government attempted to tackle it by introducing new pay gap reporting obligations.

Employers in Great Britian with 250 or more staff are required to publish details on an annual basis of their gender pay gap.   

This year’s results showed that over half of private companies have reported gaps that are higher or no lower than last year’s.

Clearly ‘fixing’ the gender pay gap in the UK will not happen overnight, and requires systemic changes in attitudes and policies. However, there are steps that employers can take in order to improve their own gender pay data each year.

For example, an employer could ensure that there are no barriers to success by encouraging flexible working to give female employees the chance to reach senior positions as well as fulfilling family commitments. They could also look at enhancing payment for shared parental leave to support more new fathers to take a period of time to care for their family.