Framework Conditions in the United Kingdom

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Equal Pay Act in the United Kingdom

Already in the 1950s, women went on the streets to demonstrate for equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. These uprisings were followed by adoption of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

The Equal Pay Act has been modified and reformed in 2010. The Equal Pay Act is no part of a larger legal framework - the Equality Act. The reform in 2010 provides that employers should stick to the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value. Work of equal value is rated in terms of effort, skill or decision making. Furthermore, the reform of 2010 allows for equal pay audits as well as pay compensation.

In 2015, the government started a consultation phase calling for further action to decrease the gender pay gap. Among the considerations to act are broadening the career choices for girls or fostering efforts on pay transparency. Find here the questionnaire and the final report of the consultation process.

The consultation process lead to a recast of the Equality Act now containing detailed provisions on pay transparency and reporting for companies with more than 250 employees.

Gender Pay Gap Reporting

"From 2017, any organisation that has 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men’s earnings. Employers must both publish their gender pay gap data and a written statement on their public-facing website and report their data to government online. If your organisation has fewer than 250 employees, it can publish and report voluntarily but is not obliged to do so."[1]

Companies have to publish the following data:

You must publish on your organisation’s public-facing website and report to government your organisation’s:

- mean gender pay gap in hourly pay

- median gender pay gap in hourly pay

- mean bonus gender pay gap

- median bonus gender pay gap

- proportion of males and females receiving a bonus payment

- proportion of males and females in each pay quartile

For more information see: Information on the law entered into force and the reporting website. The list with all reporting companies and their reports can be accessed here

Job Evaluation

In the UK, companies are encouraged to develop a job evaluation system free from a gender bias. This has been already practiced in the areas of higher education, care and within the public sectors. All three sectors underwent a review process to lift remuneration for women up and to revalue low paid and under-valued work, mostly performed by women.

In addition, companies can participate in a voluntary initiative set up by the British government to take action for equal pay. So far, more than 60 notable companies have taken their stance within this initiative.

Part-Time Work

In the UK, part-time workers have the same entitlements as full-time workers. Among these are the same hourly wage rates, access to pension schemes, entitlements to leave, sick pay or training.

Part-time work often occurs in jobs dominated by women or women choose part-time work to better be able to reconcile work and family life. Having the same provisions for part- and full-time work, thus, has an impact on the gender pay gap.

Women's Equality Party

In March 2015, the Women's Equality Party has been founded in order to push for the full implementation of gender equality. The founders state that mainstream political parties have failed to tackle gender inequality over years.

Their credo also involves the call for equal pay for equal work or work of equal value: "WE expect equal pay for equal work and will look for ways to tackle the existing imbalances that leave many women, such as those who are unpaid caregivers or in low paid jobs, especially vulnerable." Within their focuson equal pay, the WEP requests transparency in wage setting, zero tolerance for discrimination, investments in child care structures and a focus on pensions to circumvent poverty after retiring.


  1. Government Equalities Office: Gender Pay Gap Reporting - Overview

European Commission: Legislation and Equality Plans

European Commission: Job evaluation free from gender bias / making pay differences transparant

Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes: Gesetzgebung zur Entgeltgleichheit im internationalen Vergleich

Antidiskriminierungsstelle des Bundes: Gleiche Arbeit, ungleicher Lohn? Zahlen und Fakten zu Entgeltungleichheit in Deutschland und Europa

European Commission: Exchange of good practices on gender equality - comments paper UK

Government Consultation (2015). Closing the Gender Pay Gap

European added value of applying the principle of Equal Pay for men and women for equal work or work of equal value - Research Paper

Government Equalities Office: Gender Pay Gap Reporting

Government Equalities Office: Gender Pay Gap Reporting - Data

Government Equalities Office: Gender Pay Gap Reporting - Calculations

Government Equalities Office: Campaign around Gender Pay Gap Reporting

ACAS: Gender Pay Gap Reporting Guide

Women's Equality Party

Women's Equality Party: Policy Document

The Guardian: Gender pay gap: hundreds of companies file reports on final day - as it happened

The Guardian: Gender pay gap: when does your company stop paying women in 2018?