A YouGov survey has revealed that almost two thirds of the British public are unaware of the correct definition of the gender pay gap and are confusing the term with equal pay.

The gender pay gap and equal pay both deal with the difference in pay women receive compared to men in the workplace. Measures to close the gender pay gap and ensure equal pay both have the same goal ultimately i.e. to remove sex discrimination in relation to pay.

But they are two different issues.

What is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap shows the difference in average pay between men and women across a workforce.

Since April 2017 private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees (as at 5 April in any year) must publish an annual gender pay gap report. Similar obligations apply to public sector bodies in England, if they have 250 or more employees on 31 March in any year.

According to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, there is an overall gender pay gap of 18.1% in Britain. This may be down, in part, to more men working in higher paid sectors and in senior roles, and more women working in part-time roles, which are often lower paid or have fewer opportunities for progression.

The gender pay gap reports published by employers do not tell us whether men and women are being paid the same rate for carrying out the same role in that organisation.

You can access some of our previous blogs on gender pay gap reporting here and here.

What is equal pay?

Equal pay focuses on whether men and women are paid the same for carrying out the same or similar jobs. It concerns individuals or groups of workers performing the same or comparable work.

We've previously blogged about the equal pay claims that some supermarkets are facing.

The legal right to equal pay has existed since the 70s. No employer is exempt.

Employers can be compliant with equal pay legislation, but could still have a gender pay gap, for example because the majority of women are employed in the lower-paid jobs in the organisation.

Where can we find out more?

Users of BResourceFull Workbox, the employment team's online HR site, can access more information on the dedicated pages on gender pay gap reporting and equal pay. Alternatively, please get in touch with your usual Brodies contact.