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North East businesses must maintain momentum on the gender pay gap as Equal Pay Day crawls back

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Businesses must not overlook the work still to be done in tackling the gender pay gap as the date of the UK’s ‘Equal Pay Day’ moves back for the first time in four years, according to lawyers at national law firm Weightmans.

2019’s Equal Pay Day is the 14th of November – a day identified by the Fawcett Society as the point in the year when women effectively stop earning an income compared to their male colleagues. This year’s date is four days later than last year’s marker, and the first time since 2015 that the date had moved later in the calendar.

The announcement comes ahead of the 2020 deadline for businesses and organisations to openly publish figures relating to 2019 pay, which includes details such as overall average gender pay gaps and any differences in bonuses paid to each.

This requirement to report on gender pay gaps is a legal obligation for organisations with more than 250 employees, introduced in April 2017.

Ben Daniel, partner in the Employment, Pensions and Immigration team at Weightmans, said: “There are some mixed messages as to whether the gender pay gap is increasing or decreasing, depending on which measure you look at. What’s clear, however, is that although there is now a focus on the issue of pay parity, there is still a way to go.

“Organisations in the retail sector are now facing some of the challenges arising from equal pay claims that have been prevalent in the public sector now for over a decade.

“Organisations should be going beyond the requirements associated with publishing the gender pay gap figures and carrying out a more thorough equal pay audit to see whether there are underlying equal pay issues. They could go even further and implement a fit for purpose job evaluation scheme to reassure their staff that their roles have been appropriately evaluated and they are paid in accordance with that evaluation.

“Taking proactive steps like these will not only help organisations create an environment with equal opportunity, and access to fair remuneration, but also help ensure that we see Equal Pay Day retreat so much as to become a thing of the past.”

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