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public authorities must review questions of harassment, discrimination and the promotion of gender equality across employment, service provision, public functions and any other functions.  In addition, they must take into account services and functions that are contracted out.     

Objectives to address the gender pay gap


The general duty includes a requirement to have due regard to the need to eliminate discrimination that is unlawful under the EqPA.  The specific duties require listed public authorities, when setting their overall objectives, to 'consider the need to have objectives that address the causes of any differences between the pay of men and women that are related to their sex'.    


These requirements, taken together with the specific duty to collect and make use of information on gender equality in the workforce and the duty to assess the impact of policies and practices, mean that listed public authorities have to undertake a process of determining whether their policies and practices are contributing to the causes of the gender pay gap.  This should be done in consultation with employees and others, including trade unions.  


The gender pay gap is determined by calculating women's overall average pay as a percentage of men's. The main factors which contribute to this gap are:

discrimination, including pay discrimination (which is often inadvertent, but nonetheless unlawful)

the impact of women's disproportionate share of caring responsibilities (which often results in women undertaking part-time work which is often poorly paid and often restricts career continuity and progression)

the concentration of women in particular occupations ('occupational segregation'), usually characterised by lower levels of pay than in those numerically dominated by men.


The first step for a public authority considering the need for pay objectives should be to gather information to ascertain if there is a gender pay gap in its workforce.  If there is, the authority should gather the information needed to identify the main cause or causes of that gap.  These steps will enable it to to give proper consideration to whether pay objectives are needed, and help it identify the causes those objectives may need to address.  The size of the pay gap and the relative significance of each of the three causes will vary between different public authorities.  


If a public authority fails to demonstrate that it has adequately collected and analysed information to establish whether or not there is a gender pay gap in its workforce, or fails to take action if there is a problem, it risks non-compliance with the duty, and subsequent enforcement action.  Public authorities that do not set their own pay systems will still be expected to gather information and take appropriate action on any causes of the gender pay gap within their organisation which remain within their control.  


Public authorities must be able to demonstrate that they have considered the need to have objectives that address the gender pay gap.  For this reason, if a public authority does not include such objectives it should give reasons for that decision in

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