The Fawcett Society launches new Equal Pay Advice Service

To highlight Equal Pay Day, the campaigning charity is supporting UK employees to exercise their rights and take a stand on salaries and pay.

Two calculators and operators head to head
Research published today from the Fawcett Society shows just four in ten employees know their legal rights are protected in conversations with colleagues about pay if they think they are being discriminated against because of their gender. The research further found six out of ten (61%) workers would be uncomfortable asking a colleague how much they earn. It says a culture of pay secrecy persists in UK workplaces that allows discrimination to thrive. Half of those surveyed (52%) say their managers would respond negatively to more openness, indicating they think it is difficult to challenge.
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Bringing salaries out of the shadows

For employees this Equal Pay Day, the Fawcett Society is calling on people to be a part of their campaign to fight unequal pay by talking to colleagues about what they earn.To support this approach, the charity’s research found that half of workers (62% for women and 57% for men) would share their own salary information with a colleague they didn’t know very well, if they thought they might be experiencing discrimination.The Fawcett Society’s research on how a culture of secrecy helps to perpetuate the pay gap is complemented by research from recruiter Major Players. It advocates hiring managers take a stand and not ask for jobseekers' current salaries so their skills can be valued objectively through a fair and rigorous recruitment process.

What are my rights on equal pay?

Both sets of research come as the Fawcett Society finds that almost 50 years since the Equal Pay Act, one in three men (35%) and women (33%) in work do not know that it is illegal to pay women and men differently for equal work.Three in ten (31%) workers also believe their contracts ban people from talking to each other about pay, despite this being legally unenforceable.Further, 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.

Where can I get legal advice on equal pay?

In response, the Fawcett Society have teamed up with employment law charity YESS Law to launch a new Equal Pay Advice Service. The helpline is funded by a generous donation of backdated pay from former BBC China Editor, Carrie Gracie.The service is 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.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.”

Starting a conversation about equal pay at work

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said:“In workplaces all over the country, pay discrimination is able to thrive and is more common than people realise because of a culture of pay secrecy which persists. People do not know their basic rights and do not know what their colleagues earn.”“This Equal Pay Day we are asking you to talk about pay at work, share news about the Fund with #GetEqual on #EqualPayDay and donate to support via our GoFundMe page. With your help we can ensure many more women have access to justice and get equal pay.Emma Webster, joint CEO of YESS Law said: “Access to expert legal advice is crucial so that women understand their position and are empowered to raise the issue of Equal Pay. Most people want to keep their job and maintain a good relationship with their employer whilst also being paid equally. Our resolution-focussed approach provides people with advice, support and coaching to encourage open conversations and solutions.”Head to our HR section for more news and insight.  
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