Fawcett Society launches equal pay advice service

By agency reporter
November 12, 2018

A culture of pay secrecy persists in UK workplaces according to new research from leading campaigning charity The Fawcett Society. They claim this allows pay discrimination to thrive. Launched on the eve of Equal Pay Day on Saturday 10th November, the day in the year when women effectively start to work for free, the research found that six out of ten (61 per cent) workers say they would be uncomfortable asking a colleague how much they earn. Half of those surveyed (52 per cent) say their managers would respond negatively to more openness, indicating they think it is difficult to challenge.

Nearly 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, a shocking one in three men (35 per cent) and women (33 per cent) in work do not know that it is illegal to pay women and men differently for equal work, says the Fawcett Society.

In response the Fawcett Society have teamed up with employment law charity YESS Law to launch a new Equal Pay Advice Service, funded by an Equal Pay Fund which has been started thanks to the generous donation of backdated pay from former BBC China Editor Carrie Gracie. The service will be targeted at those on low incomes who believe they are experiencing pay discrimination and who do not have access to legal advice, enabling them to resolve the situation with their employer. They are also launching a fundraising drive on GoFundMe

Further key findings from the research:

  • 53 per cent of women and 47 per cent of men in work would be uncomfortable telling a colleague how much they earn.
    Six out of 10 (60 per cent) workers are unaware that they have a legal right to have conversations with colleagues about pay if they think they are being discriminated against because of their gender.
  • Three in 10 (31 per cent) workers believe their contracts ban people from talking to each other about pay, despite this being legally unenforceable.
  • More men (38 per cent) than women (26 per cent) in work believe that a person does not have a legal right to ask their colleagues how much they are paid, if that person thinks they might be experiencing pay discrimination because of their gender.

But there is some good news:

  • Half (50 per cent) of workers would share their salary information with a colleague whom they did not know very well, if they thought they might be experiencing discrimination.
  • This rises to 62 per cent for women and 57 per cent for men if it was a colleague whom they knew well in their team, who asked because they thought they might be experiencing discrimination.

Carrie Gracie said: “The fight for equal pay often pits a lone woman against a very powerful employer. Without the support of other BBC Women and without great legal advice, I would have struggled to get through my own equal pay ordeal. Many women in other workplaces have since told me about their feelings of loneliness and helplessness in confronting pay discrimination. I feel particularly concerned about low paid women who may not be able to afford legal advice, and I hope support from our new Equal Pay Advice Service will help give them the confidence to pursue their rights.”

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “In workplaces all over the country, pay discrimination is able to thrive and is more common than people realise because of a culture of pay secrecy which persists. People do not know their basic rights and do not know what their colleagues earn.”

“This Equal Pay Day we are asking you to talk about pay at work, share news about the Fund with #GetEqual on #EqualPayDay and donate to support via our GoFundMe page. With your help we can ensure many more women have access to justice and get equal pay.

Emma Webster, Joint CEO of YESS Law said: “Access to expert legal advice is crucial so that women understand their position and are empowered to raise the issue of Equal Pay. Most people want to keep their job and maintain a good relationship with their employer whilst also being paid equally.

“We are a charity which focuses entirely on resolving disputes through pragmatic and constructive conversations as opposed to escalating disputes to litigation. Our resolution-focused approach provides people with advice, support and coaching to encourage open conversations and solutions.”

This Equal Pay Day, Fawcett are calling on people to be a part of their campaign to fight unequal pay by taking ‘3 steps to #GetEqual’: Talk, Share, and Donate.

  •  Talk to your colleagues and ask what they earn – end the culture of pay secrecy working to the benefit of employers
  • Share an equals sign on social media and #GetEqual #EqualPayDay. Spread the news about Fawcett’s Equal Pay Advice Service – are you or somebody you know being paid unfairly because of your sex? Apply for the Fund here
  • Donate to the Equal Pay Fund via the GoFundMe page and help women on low incomes access legal advice and claim their rights
  • * Fawcett Society https://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk/
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