New Strategy for Achieving Pay Equality

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has published a new strategy setting out how gender, ethnicity and disability pay gaps should be tackled. 

It calls on Government, businesses and society in general to take more action to help achieve pay equality for these groups. 

Shake-up of Working Practices

The underlying principle of the strategy is the need for what the Commission describes as a ‘shake-up of culture and working practices’, which it believes is necessary to remove persistent pay gaps.

“We need new ideas to bring down pay gaps – it’s not just about more women at the top,” explained Caroline Waters, Deputy Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission. “Yes, female representation is important but tackling pay gaps is far more complicated than that. While there has been some progress, it has been painfully slow. We need radical change now otherwise we’ll be having the same conversation for decades to come.”

“The pay gaps issue sits right at the heart of our society and is a symbol of the work we still need to do to achieve equality for all,” she added. “Subject choices and stereotypes in education send children of all genders, abilities, and racial backgrounds on set paths. These stereotypes are then reinforced throughout the workplace in recruitment, pay and progression. For this to change, we need to overhaul our culture and make flexible working the norm; looking beyond women as the primary caregivers and having tough conversations about the biases that are rife in our workforce and society.” 

Availability of Flexible Working

A key requirement of the Commission’s strategy is that all jobs should be advertised as available for flexible working. It says that this will remove many of the barriers faced by women and disabled people in accessing employment.

The strategy also sets out five other key recommendations for Government and employers, calling on them to:

  • unlock the earning potential of education by addressing differences in subject and career choices, educational attainment and access to apprenticeships,
  • improve work opportunities for everyone, no matter who they are or where they live by investing in sector-specific training and regional enterprise,
  • encourage men and women to share childcare responsibilities by making paternity leave a more effective incentive and improving access to childcare,
  • increase diversity at all levels and in all sectors by encouraging employers to tackle bias in recruitment, promotion and pay and introducing a new national target for senior and executive management positions, and
  • report on progress towards reducing pay gaps by extending  reporting to ethnicity and disability and collecting annual statistics.

Pay Gap Increasing in Some Areas

The scale of the gender pay gap problem was recently highlighted in analysis conducted by the Guardian, which found that the pay gap across the whole of the Civil Service has only fallen by 2% since 2010, and in one out of four Government organisations the gap is actually growing.

This includes the Office for Budget Responsibility, where the gender pay gap rose by 31% from 2012 to reach 37% in 2017, and the attorney general’s office, where it grew by 18% to 41%. 

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