Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Figures speak for themselves

The news of the huge pay differentials between male and female workers in the City Council has broken across most of the broadsheets and "quality" tabloids, and the Metro, today.
The figures pretty much speak for themselves, and will take years to sort out so that there is any kind of "equal pay for work of equal value". As someone who has gone through two equal pay audits while in my work place, I know and value the fact that as an organisation I am being equally rewarded for my work as someone doing completely different, but at an equivalent level.
But if you are earning £91k, then I can see that you may think the process of pay equality is a threat.
Of course, the one mistake in the Torygraph article is that Cllr Alan Rudge has metamorphosed into "Alan Partridge".


At 10:21 am, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think we should get radical and be pushing for full pay disclosure, that is the only way people will be able to challenge why they are being paid less for doing the same job as someone else.

To work full pay disclosure would need to include bonuses, share options etc.

Chris Gee

At 10:48 am, Blogger Tristan said...

Figures rarely speak for themselves- they are too divorced from reality (something economists ironically seem to try to get across... you need broad context...)

There are two aspects to differences in pay, firstly out and out discrimination - which is wrong and illegal.
Secondly basic economics:
The economics sounds harsh, but its the way it is, I don't know of a solution, but there are better minds out there than me...
It is that women take time out of work to have children, this makes them less good investments for employers. The chances are they will leave for a time, with the employer picking up some of the bill (hiring temps etc), so they get paid less.
The other pay differential tends to be because women will often take more flexible jobs with lower pay.
Of course, taking a long time out reduces your equivalent experience too (although should that always matter? In my experience it doesn't always matter when it comes to ability to do the job...)

It is unfair to ask a woman if she's going to go off and have a baby, you can't do that, but we are left with the unsatifactory case that women are seen as greater liabilities, even if they are not going to have children...

We could force men to take the same amount of leave when they have children as women do, but that is illiberal in the extreme.
We could reduce statuatory maternity leave to a minimum, but that's politically unfeasable (and possibly undesirable, I'm in two minds about it - the economist says yes, the more social part says no...).

Its a difficult (and emotive) problem. Women should not be penalised for being women, so for the same job they should get the same pay but if they have children, their employer should not be penalised...

For more flexible work, you may have to accept lower pay. I do this, I also get other benefits like enjoying where I work. Financial reward is not the only part of your decision to take a job...

Social attitudes are changing. Men are far more likely to take paternity leave, women are not expected to have children as much as they once were. We've come a long way. We will go further, if we don't manage to mess things up with too much bad (if well meaning) government intervention...

At 3:16 pm, Blogger Radders said...

1) Full disclosure
I couldn't agree more. It is something I encourage amongst my work colleagues as it helps expose potential inequalities/inequities.
It has only through member led enquiries of Birmingham City Council that we have uncovered the bollard cleaners on 50k+ (including stand-by pay, just in case a bollard needs cleaning at night).
Full disclosure would have meant that their managers would have discovered they were on much less (no incentive bonuses, and less overtime etc).

2) Sexual equality
I can understand all the arguments and difficulties raised by through trying to account for different experiences between the sexes.
But, the level of inequality I'm talking about is at the bottom end of the payscales where you should be able to use various framework methodologies to equate cleaners (generally female) and other manual types of labour (highways, street cleaning, parks etc that are generally occupied by males). I would argue that you don't need years of experience in either of these roles, so there shouldn't be huge differentials in pay based on years of service. Yet there have been, through stronger Union dominance in parts of the organisation. If I was a cleaner working for Birmingham, I'd not be chuffed at my colleagues working elsewhere.
In my work place we are all on a single spine (from porter to professor), and experience is rewarded, but the grades are relatively short, so you can't over-reward experience/time served.


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