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CIPD Press releases - Equal opportunities

ASHE results represent a backward step for gender pay equality, but blaming employers is too simplistic

14 November 2008

Figures from the 2008 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) released earlier today by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that women have slipped further behind men in the pay stakes. Gerwyn Davies, Public Policy Adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), says this presents a challenge to employers and policy makers but cautions against simplisticly attributing the gap to poor employer practice:

"Today's figures showing that the pay gap between full-time male and female employees widened in the year to April is most disappointing and a blow to progress towards equality. The poor year for women in the workforce is further exacerbated by relatively small increases in the pay of part-time workers and public sector workers, categories of work where women are in the majority.

"The figures demonstrate that even greater effort will need to be made by employers and government to narrow the gap. But it is simplistic to conclude that the gender pay gap is the result of overt pay discrimination by employers. The gap mainly reflects variations in the type of jobs done by men and women, different working patterns and, in particular, the impact of child and elder care on womens' career choices and hours of work. All these factors need to be taken into account when devising changes to policy and practice designed to close the gap."

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* The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) is the United Kingdom's leading professional body for those involved in the management and development. They have 130,000 individual members and their objectives are to lead in the development and promotion of good practice in the field of the management and development of people, for application both by professional members and by their

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