I think you will have to search long and hard to find people who do not agree that everyone should get the same rate of pay for doing the same job- irrespective of age, gender, sexuality, ability etc. The truth is you would have to be something of a dinosaur to think otherwise. In the world today, the job should be evaluated and the respective rate of pay determined; it should not be based on any other factors and indeed the law in the UK anyway supports that stance. Any employers not paying a going rate for the job to everyone is liable to legal action.
Now that being the case and given that there are not huge numbers of legal cases waiting to go to court where does the gender pay gap fit in??? Let’s be honest it would be very unusual for the legal world not to jump into the argument if they thought there was a pound or two in it for them. So what is it all about?
Unusually (said with tongue in cheek), the media are whipping up a storm of confusion about pay rates and it worries me that we now have female MP’s jumping on the bandwagon – my god these MP’s are supposed to have the brains to run our country and yet they do not seem to understand the basics around the alleged gender pay gap!!
Basically if you are a cleaner working for a business and the pay rate is £7.80 per hour that’s what you will get, it will not matter what your gender/ sexuality is. The same applies to all jobs, if you are a basic grade newly qualified nurse you will get the same pay as your peers irrespective of gender/ sexuality. Where the problem arises is when people start to try to compare some jobs with other jobs, recent examples have been working in warehouse deliveries at a supermarket being compared to working on the shop floor; another was comparing jobs in the airline industry such as pilot and cabin crew. This is a false comparison as it arguably is not comparing like with like. So where does the gender issue arise, there is nothing stopping females from becoming pilots/ warehouse delivery personnel just as there is nothing preventing males from becoming shop floor workers/ cabin crew and indeed there are examples of each of these things happening resulting in shop floor workers male and female receiving the same rate of pay according to their grade/ age.
So the gender pay gap is NOT about the rate of pay for the job you do, it is about your earning capacity over your working lifetime. The argument being made is that on average the females will earn less than their male counterparts over their working life because they will not hold as many of the senior posts which attract a higher pay rate, THAT fact is probably very true but does that mean women are being treated less favourably?? Well that depends on how you look at it.
If we look at the average couple with children, the female gives up her career aspirations to have the babies and look after them, then she works part time to fit things around school/ because the nursery fees are high or because the couple only want the free nursery hours. This will probably cover many households but the reality is the female only needs to be off work for 6weeks post delivery unless she had a section when depending on what her job is she may need to be off for 12weeks. After the medical reasons for having time off are taken into account there is no reason why the remainder of any leave cannot be divided between both parents, subsequently having less of an impact on either person’s career; but the truth is that it is usually the female who decides to take ALL of the leave – often leaving the male feeling left out of the bonding process, resulting in her having a career break or missing promotion opportunities at work, so yes her over all average earnings will be less than that of her male counterpart. But NO it is not because she HAS to take the time off to look after the children, she only HAS to take the 6-12 weeks off post delivery, any other time taken is by choice or as a result of her agreement with her partner.
Lets go on to consider the single parent – don’t forget not ALL single parents are female and the reasons why any parent is single are very varied from choice /divorce/ separation/ death to name the most obvious causes. And yes irrespective of why you are single things are more difficult to manage on your own and your choices are different, that includes those females – some of whom I worked with, who made a conscious decision to give up a professional full time job to do part time in the same job – because if they worked more than 16hrs they would lose the benefits they would otherwise be able to claim!! They had calculated that by claiming state benefits and working 16hrs they were at least as well off as they were when they worked full time so why bother doing the full time when they would be no worse off doing 16hrs! Believe me it was galling to listen to females who were in well paid professional jobs who decided to get pregnant – more than once because the finances only worked out if you had a minimum of 2 children!! These were women who made a conscious well planned lifestyle choice!
Then there are the single female parents who only live on state benefits and have no intentions of working, they are now furious and upset because the government has put a maximum level on the amount they can receive irrespective of how many children they have. I must admit to thinking that is fair, after all if there was a new baby expected in my family I could not go to my boss and automatically get a pay rise to feed another mouth, I would have to manage my finances better. And before lots of you go off shouting about how poor people on benefits really are I have two nieces on benefits, both have more than one child, one works 16hrs and gets her benefits, the other with 4 children was receiving the equivalent of £28,000 per anum, this included free nursery, all school breakfasts and lunches, her rent and council tax and water rates – not bad eh!! I wouldn’t mind but both these young ladies have a good degree, but neither is paying that back either!! These single parents again have made lifestyle choices.
Now for those parents who find themselves launched into an unplanned single parent situation the whole business can be traumatic whether they are male or female and I do think employers should have to be flexible and make some time allowance available for these people to get themselves sorted out, but this is not just a female matter so it would impact on career opportunities irrespective of the person’s gender.
So back to the gender pay gap; it is argued that many women have a reduction in earning opportunities because they HAVE to take low paid work to fit around their family demands – well clearly they do not. They cannot be forced from the job they held just because they are pregnant and that job has to be kept for them for the duration of their legally allowed maternity leave, so the choice to leave the job/ take lower paid work is theirs as their employers are also legally required to offer flexible working for the first 5yrs after the child is born – again for those worried about the impact on their career the leave can be taken by the male or the female.
On the face of it this whole argument is looking very thin and lacks substance as it is very much down to choices. Where the situation is very different is if the person is on a zero hours contract or self employed when irrespective of gender there can be a serious impact on the family finances if there is suddenly a crisis that results in the need to adjust your life to accommodate child care.
So does the gender pay gap really mean
female gets pregnant – takes 1yr leave- may be supported by partner whilst on leave – returns to work part time for own reasons- cannot do the full job remit on reduced hours- loses experience – does not want greater work responsibilities – child grows up – female wants to resume full career – sees her male counterparts who have been working full time hours and had no breaks making greater career advances – female feels left behind – Feels everything is Unfair – Starts claiming gender pay gap!
The reality is that even if the pay rate never changed from £15 an hour for 30years a person working 36hrs a week will earn more in 30yrs (total earned=£842,400 )than someone who gets the same rate of pay but works 10 of the 30yrs at half the hours (Total earned =£678600) In this example the pay gap is £163,800 less earned in a lifetime,
- but is it a gender pay gap??
- NO, because if a male took the same career break decision the outcome would be the same!!
Now if a female returns to work and get everything up to full speed again but constantly get overlooked for promotion then we have an issue, BUT THIS IS NOT A PAY GAP it is a loss of career opportunity based on gender so it is inequality of opportunity, which, if it happens in the UK is against the law; so again if this is the problem
- Why do we not have lawyers like swarms of bees round the honey pot on this one?
IF ANYONE HAS THE ANSWER LET ME KNOW
Sorry ladies but it is beginning to look like you want your cake and eat it, the situation is exactly the same where males take time out of work/ career breaks/ reduce their hours for domestic reasons, therefore this is not a gender issue, you may argue that it affects more women but again much of that is because of choices they make.
Interesting that once again it is the rich females complaining, those who are on VERY good salaries!
Is there not more merit in fighting the corner for those poor sods on the minimum wage and zero hour contracts, they are working the asses off but getting no- where. These are the people who deserve our support and help, these are the REAL poor people of our country. These are the poor sods who are employed by people who couldn’t give a shit about what happens to that person or their family if they get zero hours.
- So before we start worrying about how much women earn over a lifetime after they have made their choices, lets look after those people who have jobs that do not allow them to make choices and who do not have the luxury of having paid sick leave never mind having long maternity leave!
- What will they earn over their life time- irrespective of their gender? It’s guaranteed that it is a damned site less than those who are twittering on about some imaginary ‘gender pay gap’