Although the U.K. government has been trying to make salaries of men and women equal for 40 years, the country still has an extremely high level of the gender wage gap compared to the other countries of the European Union. The payment of the UK men generally exceeds the payment of the UK women by 15%. However, every region has its own gap level, e.g. it is 23% in London. This payment inequality shows that there is a lot of work to do for males and females to have equal opportunities.
According to the Fawcett Society, it has taken a lot of time to destroy the gender wage gap, but it is likely to increase in the present age of economic austerity. There are numerous reasons for it; one of them is the underestimation of female labor. Jobs done by men provide their workers with larger salaries than those done by women, e.g. mechanics earn much more than nurses. Furthermore, there is currently a shortage of possibilities to get flexible work, that’s why it is hard for the majority of female parents to combine their employment with family duties. Many employers often do not want to hire ladies of childbearing age because they are afraid of the possibility that they can become pregnant and go on maternity leave paid by the companies they work for.
The Fawcett Society, an organization encouraging the introduction of equal rights for men and women, has offered regular gender wage inspections of enterprises employing over 250 people. It is an essential measure to put an end to the gender wage gap. The 2010 Equality Act has a provision permitting the government to inspect large companies if they did not make sufficient voluntary progress. Unfortunately, Section 78 was removed from the Act in 2010, but there is still good news. According to Lynne Featherstone, a minister responsible for equal opportunities, companies will have to experience gender wage inspections if they lose an employment case on equal salaries.