Gender equality has come a long way in the past century, but this does not mean that sexism is entirely erased. In many nations around the world, men make far more money than women do, even when they are working at comparable jobs. One solution to this issue in the UK and some other countries is legislative requirements that all people get paid the same amount for the same work.
Despite laws requiring equal pay in the UK, many women still struggle to get equal pay. When large companies in the nation were required to publish how much they pay male and female employees, there was a pay gap of 17.9 percent. This pay gap is slightly higher than most countries in the EU, where the pay gap is still a rather hefty 13.8 percent.
The reports from the UK companies found that 78 percent of the companies consistently paid male employees more on average. The government’s response to this problem is requiring the companies to come up with a plan to reduce gender pay gaps. However, companies are not legally required to alter their payrolls, so many criticize the UK plan for equal pay as being essentially useless.
The reasons that pay gaps still exist despite laws against them is fairly complex. Part of the issue is that companies are only required to provide the same payment for the same exact position. If a male and female employee do basically the same job but have slightly different titles, they do not have to have equal pay. Major UK companies like Asda and Tesco are currently undergoing lawsuits by female employees who highlight this issue.
Another problem is that companies often pay higher bonuses or other incentives for people who work more hours at salaried jobs. Women often end up working shorter hours at their place of employment because much of the burden of housework and childcare still falls on women even in supposedly equal relationships.
Looking at other countries shows that the best strategy for improving pay gaps may be more targeted regulations and rules. In Iceland, all large firms have to publicly provide pay information and show that they are not adjusting pay for gendered reasons. France has a similar approach, where big companies have to meet certain gender equality criteria or face fines.