Equal Pay Advice Service launched

14 November 2018

A culture of pay secrecy persists in UK workplaces according to new research from charity The Fawcett Society.

Launched on the eve of Equal Pay Day on Saturday 10 November, the day in the year when women effectively start to work for free, the research has found that six out of ten (61%) workers say they would be uncomfortable asking a colleague how much they earn. Half of those surveyed (52%) 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 1 in 3 men (35%) and women (33%) in work do not know that it is illegal to pay women and men differently for equal work.

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% of women and 47% of men in work would be uncomfortable telling a colleague how much they earn

  • Six out of 10 (60%) 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%) workers believe their contracts ban people from talking to each other about pay, despite this being legally unenforceable

  • More men (38%) than women (26%) 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%) of workers would share their salary information with a colleague whom they didn’t know very well if they thought they might be experiencing discrimination

  • This rises to 62% for women and 57% 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.”