Cautious welcome to low wage findings

Three in 10 women are set to benefit from the new National Living Wage, according to a report from thinktank Resolution Foundation. Sam Smethers, Fawcett’s chief executive, has given the findings a cautious welcome:

“It is good to see that so many women will benefit from an increase in the National Living Wage but that is only because so many of them are in low-paid work in the first place.  It is a stark reminder of the segregation between men and women that still exists in the workforce, with women concentrated at the bottom and men at the top.

“We know that women are significantly more likely to work part time than men, with many doing several low-paid, part-time jobs and these are the people most likely to benefit. As a result, the increase in the National Living Wage should have a small positive impact on the gender pay gap and on the part-time pay gap in particular.  But we still have a long way to go before we begin to close it in any significant way.”

The new National Living Wage, a rebranded national minimum wage, starts next April at £7.20 and will reach over £9 by 2020. The government expects it to have a positive effect on the gender pay gap, currently stubbornly large at 19.1%. However the gender pay gap is complex with multiple causes and Fawcett fears that the impact will be relatively small.

This isn’t just a matter of fairness and the entitlement to equal pay that women have had for over 40 years but about UK productivity.  The pay gap represents a productivity gap of £600 billion and represents a waste of the qualifications, experience and talents that women possess.

Fawcett supports measures to tackle the gap that include fathers taking more caring responsibilities, investment in childcare and transparency by in the way employers reward their employees.

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