The gender pay gap is the difference between male and female earnings. This difference is expressed as a percentage of male earnings. The gender pay gap reduces women’s lifetime earnings and also affects their pensions – this is one of the significant causes of poverty in later life for women.

UN Women is very clear about what the gender pay gap represents. They call it “robbery”. We believe that this is the best way to describe gender-based salary discrimination that is global issue where the difference in salary between men and women ranges between 20-25%.

By law, men and women must get equal pay for doing ‘equal work’ (work that equal pay law classes as the same, similar, equivalent or of equal value).

This means someone must not get less pay compared to someone who is both:

  • the opposite sex
  • doing equal work for the same employer

Equal pay law applies to pay and terms and conditions of employment, including:

  • basic salary
  • basic wages
  • pension
  • working hours
  • annual leave allowance
  • holiday pay
  • overtime pay
  • redundancy pay
  • sick pay
  • performance-related pay, for example a bonus that’s in the employment contract
  • benefits, for example gym membership or a company car

By law, ‘equal work’ counts as either:

  • ‘like work’ – work where the job and skills are the same or similar
  • ‘work rated as equivalent’ – work rated as equivalent, usually using a fair job evaluation. This could be because the level of skill, responsibility and effort needed to do the work are equivalent
  • ‘work of equal value’ – work that is not similar but is of equal value. This could be  because the level of skill, training, responsibility or demands of the working conditions are of equal value

Some jobs can be classed as equal work, even if the roles seem different. For example, a clerical job and a warehouse job might be classed as equal work.

Success Stories

Presenter Samira Ahmed has won the employment tribunal she brought against the BBC in a dispute over equal pay.

Ahmed claimed she was underpaid by £700,000 for hosting audience feedback show Newswatch compared with Jeremy Vine’s salary for Points of View.