Gender Pay Gap report calls for more effective policy on shared parental leave

01 April 2016

The Women and Equalities Committee report on the Gender Pay Gap includes recommendations to increase shared parental leave to three months for second parents and to bring payments into line with statutory maternity pay.

The Women and Equalities Committee is appointed by the House of Commons to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

The Gender Pay Gap report highlights the lack of effective policy in many of the areas that contribute to the gender pay gap. It finds that the key causes of pay differentials are:

  • the part-time pay penalty
  • women’s disproportionate responsibility for childcare and other forms of unpaid caring
  • the concentration of women in highly feminised, low paid sectors like care, retail and cleaning.

The report states that although the Government has committed to eliminating the 19.2% pay gap within a generation, it has remained at around the same level for the past four years. Women aged over 40 are most affected by the gender pay gap, with women aged 50-59 facing a 27% differential. Evidence suggests that the barriers to well-paid work currently experienced by women over 40 will continue unless action is taken to address the root causes of the gender pay gap.

The report concludes that if Government is to achieve its objective of reducing the gender pay gap it needs a more effective policy on shared parental leave (SPL). The report recommends that current weaknesses can be addressed by:

  • introducing three months paid paternal leave for second parents, only be taken when the mother returns to work and would be in addition to current parental leave benefits
  • increasing payment of paternity leave to 90% of salary (the same as maternity pay), capped for higher earners
  • paying the three months non-transferrable paternal leave at 90% of salary (capped) for four weeks and then at the same level as SPL.

The report also recommends that the Government should:

  • investigate the benefits of offering all forms of parental leave on a part-time basis
  • immediately move to bring in Carers’ Leave of six weeks to allow employees facing short-term care issues to take time out of work without losing their jobs
  • commission research to examine how decisions about taking time out of work for caring are shared between men and women and use this evidence to support parents in considering the long-term implications of their decisions around the time they take parental leave.

 CIPP comment

There would naturally be formal consultation if the Government were to approve any of these recommendations. As members of the Statutory Payment Consultation Group (SPCG) the Policy Team will be involved in any consultation and will keep the payroll profession updated accordingly.

if you have any agenda items, or any issues you would like raised within the SPCG, please email policy with the details.