Business woman (11)

By Lucinda Pullinger, global head of HR at The Instant Group

Although the UK’s gender pay gap has been steadily closing and is now sitting at its lowest ever level for full-time employees, 17% according to the ONS, the reality is that women are still paying the price for not being men in the world of work.

Women effectively work for free for 63-days of the year compared to the average man, which means as we work our way through March, women are only just starting to get paid for their year’s work.

Publishing gender pay gaps is not enough, so in a bid to encourage employers to make a change, I delved deeper into the issues of pay by gender in the UK and has shared six steps that can be taken to bridge the gap:

Incentivise paternity leave

Businesses can be made more female-friendly by incentivising paternity leave for dads. If fathers have additional paternity leave, mothers can return to work sooner, work more hours and earn more money, while allowing fathers more bonding time with their newborns.

Subsidise childcare

The cost of childcare can be stressful for many families, with an average cost of part-time childcare being up to £6,000 a year. However, according to research, companies providing childcare services saw reductions in employee turnover, increased productivity, and improved quality in job applicants.

Introduce remote working

In today’s digital world, remote working is becoming more acceptable and accessible to millennial workers, although parents can also enjoy the benefits of working from home. According to the TUC, flexible working has real benefits for businesses, with employees proving to be more dedicated and productive.A survey by Ernst and Young, 64% of working women who enjoyed flexible working hours claimed to have a clear career path compared to 10% of women who worked fixed hours.

Be transparent about pay

Being open and transparent about how much you pay your staff, whether listed in the initial job description or the interview, is a good starting point. Businesses should research market rates for a role and offer a fair salary for the job they are hiring for. It is also a good idea to explain how your business determines salaries and pay increases up front so that the candidate can make an informed decision about joining your company or not.

Ensure that promotions and rewards are fair

Disparity in pay can easily occur when employees are offered promotions, pay raises or bonuses. Putting in place clear and concise criteria for promotions, pay raises and bonuses will help keep things fair.

Give female employees a raise

Giving female employees a raise can eliminate the gender pay gap in the most pain-free way. Equally, it provides the best strategy for businesses to continue operations with minimal disruptions and additional pressure.

This proves there’s still a long way to go within the equal pay arena, and for women’s equality as a whole. In the workplace, businesses must start talking about gender, diversity and inclusion issues more transparently and openly, and putting measurable plans in place to combat imbalances. With regards to pay, companies can show their commitment through policies that work to eradicate the gap.”.

More women than men tend to work part-time jobs (30 paid hours a week or less) in an attempt to balance career and family responsibilities. These positions normally have lower hourly pay than full-time jobs (more than 30 paid hours a week) and are more likely to be in lower-paid occupations.

For this reason, the gender pay gap is higher for all employees than for each of full-time and part-time employees. The gender pay gap among full-time employees in the UK is currently at 8.9%, declining just 0.6% since 2012.