Today is International Women's Day. What originally started
life in 1909 as a single protest organised by the Socialist Party
of America in New York, is now a global event with the backing of
the United Nations and some of the world's largest
The theme of this year's campaign is #BeBoldForChange. The
UK Government's own flagship equality measure, while a welcome
step forward, is, it might be said, neither particularly bold, nor
likely to inspire much change.
In just under a month, from 6 April, new regulations on the
publication of gender pay gap information will come into force.
Under the new rules, employers with 250 employees or more will
be required to publish certain metrics on pay and bonuses for male
and female employees on an annual basis. More specifically,
employers must publish information on:
The mean and median hourly rates of male and female
The mean and median bonus pay paid to male and female
The proportions of male and female employees that are paid
The proportions of male and female employees that fall within
four quartile bands
It is worth clarifying from the outset that any data showing a
gap between the earnings of male and female staff is not
necessarily the same as an unlawful inequality of pay under the
Equality Act 2010. The UK Government hopes that by increasing
transparency around gender pay differences, organisations will be
encouraged to take remedial action.
Data which appears to show a large gap in pay between men and
women clearly has the potential to be both commercially and legally
damaging for employers. The reputational damage and negative
publicity of a gender pay gap could be considerable and could also
open the door to equal pay claims.
The real hope is, of course, that this data will draw attention
to the worst offending firms by shining a light on the average pay
gap across these organisations. Pay parity is, after all, something
that we should all be aspiring to, and this is a step in
the right direction. However, as is so often the case, some have
queried whether the reporting obligation goes far enough.
Sheila Wild, the former Head of Age and Earnings Inequality at
the Equality and Human Rights Commission, points out that,
"although median and hourly pay ... provide useful comparisons
of men's and women's earnings, they do not reveal
differences in rates of pay for comparable jobs." There is a
body of evidence to suggest that women are paid less than men, even
those in similar positions. A study in 2015, for example, found
that female managers earn 22% less than their male counterparts.
The new reporting requirement arguably does not do enough to
At the same time, there are questions over whether the reporting
obligation itself will do anything to tackle the underlying root
cause of the problem, i.e. that there are fewer women in senior
positions in comparison to men. Last year, research showed that
women made up just 16% of executives across the FTSE350. This is a
statistic that businesses are working to improve. Whether the
increased levels of transparency will provide further impetus to
address this remains to be seen, however forward thinking
businesses could use the data as a catalyst to embed real, lasting,
positive change within their organisations.
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In SSE Generation Limited v Hochtief Solutions AG and another decided on 21st December 2016, the Court of Session in Scotland considered a contractor's potential design liability under the NEC Form of Contract.
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