• UK gender pay gap reporting is outstanding – and not in a good way.
• UK recruitment is a lean market. But could new growth be found outside the capital?
UK Equal Pay Reports Go Unreported
Gender pay reporting is again in the spotlight, as companies remain slow to respond with a week to go.
Just one in three UK firms has reported its gender pay findings, according to the BBC.
With only one week remaining until the deadline, more than 6,000 qualifying organisations have failed to publish their results.
Under rules introduced in 2017, organisations with 250 employees or more must disclose the salary gaps between men and women on their payroll. At present, this means that around 10,000 firms fall within the scheme. At the time of writing, fewer than 4,000 businesses had revealed their findings.
In 2018, the scheme saw a deluge of reports arriving in the final days and hours before the deadline. It is expected that many of the outstanding reports will emerge in the final week again this year. The obvious concern among many business leaders is that their data will be more heavily scrutinised if they are among the early reporters. Therefore, many put off filing their data until the last minute, to ‘blend in’ with the pack.
Sam Smether of the Fawcett Society for equality, said:
“Employers are leaving it until the last minute to report.”
“It is disappointing that a significant proportion of those who have reported have got larger pay gaps. We need to tighten up the law to require them to have action plans in place which address all causes of the pay gap”.
Reporting under the scheme is a compulsory duty, rather than optional. However, HMRC has no specific powers to fine or sanction companies which fail to disclose earnings – beyond issuing non-compliance notices. Shadow Women and Equalities Minister Dawn Butler said that a Labour government would implement “auditing or fines” to ensure compliance in the future.
2019 Gender Pay Gap Findings
Using the smaller sample of data that is currently available, the BBC announced that three out of four companies (75 per cent) reported a gender pay gap in 2019. However, the extent of the disparity is starting to decline. In 2018, the pay gap stood at 9.7 per cent. Currently, it stands at 9.1 per cent.
This figure may of course change by the end of the reporting window. And companies which choose to report early are more likely to be those whose payrolls demonstrate parity.
The rate is based on the average hourly pay of men and women. It does not specifically identify cases of pay inequality. The Equal Pay Act (1970) already prevents different salaries for similar duties.
Instead, the gender pay gap helps to identify how workplace culture can impact earnings. Disparity in working patterns, employment agreements and choice of occupation are all shown to affect wages. This leads to notable disparities within certain sectors.
Last year, airline EasyJet was found to have the highest wage gap according to gender. There, female employees could expect to earn 45.5 per cent less than their male colleagues.
Equality means choosing a new recruitment system
However, workers of both genders earn equal pay within the same roles. The primary cause for the wage gap was simply that piloting is a male-dominated profession, whereas cabin crew and check-in staff were primarily women. A global shortage in aircrew talent has seen pilots’ earnings rise significantly in recent years.
In fact, the airline has been conscious of its pay gap. Last year’s results led to the brand choosing a new recruitment system to redress the balance. A spokesperson for the airline said: “EasyJet now has 222 female pilots, up from 128 – a 73% increase from 2015.” The airline said that it wants 18 per cent of its new pilot hires to be female in 2019.
However, EasyJet reports a 47.9 per cent salary gap this year – a 2.4 per cent increase in the last twelve months. It suggests that public scrutiny alone cannot solve the issue of pay disparity.
Is recruitment moving away from the capital?
Industry data suggests that jobseekers should hit the north for the best job opportunities.
Cities in Northern England and Scotland may be the most fertile recruitment grounds, according to a new study. The jobs board TotalJobs has assessed user habits of their site over the past three years. The findings suggest that the industry as a whole is shifting its focus away from the capital. Could a more diversified sector help recruiters in the regions?
We have long heard about record growth and high competition in the UK recruitment sector. But, more often than not, when the figures are revealed, they show a concentration of activity around London. But this new insight shows that the fastest growth can be found further afield.
Edinburgh, Glasgow, Liverpool, Sheffield and Leeds are among the top performers when it came to attracting candidates. These cities saw the largest increase in individual applicant volumes. Liverpool and Sheffield both demonstrated impressive growth in applicant numbers of 14 per cent.
But it was north of the border which outperformed everybody else. Edinburgh saw a 31 per cent surge in applicants. But even that was beaten by Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow, which grew applications by 41 per cent since 2016.
Supply meets a growing demand
But supply of labour is only half of the picture for a healthy jobs market. The number of vacancies being advertised has also seen a marked increase in these areas, too.
Liverpool was England’s most active hiring hub over the past 36 months. It saw listed vacancies rise by 53 per cent. In Scotland, hiring was focused on the capital. Job adverts for positions in Edinburgh increased by a staggering 53 per cent.
While the high profile tech sector often steals headlines, it is worth noting where growth lies in other sectors. Britain’s tertiary sector – of services and logistics – may be less glamorous than the cutting edge tech sector. But it is every bit as vital to the overall economy. Trends in the ‘northern powerhouse’ found that transport and logistics, customer services, and sales teams were the top recruiters by volume over the last three years.
Not just jobs: cost of living is a pull factor too
Meanwhile, external factors may provide more incentive for those considering a relocation.
Recent housing data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) finds that the Midlands house price index (HPI) is the highest in the country. The index records the average change in house prices, against a base rate of 100. The Midlands’ HPI now stands at 119.
Now, rising house prices can be seen as a deterrent. But property in the Midlands has been seen as under-valued for some time. The recent increases show encouraging signs for investors in the housing market.
Similarly, regional wage growth is marginally above the national average of 3.4 per cent. The East Midlands saw wage growth of 5 per cent in 2018. Urban centres enjoyed even higher earnings increases. Nottingham pay packets grew by 5 per cent; Leicester took home 65 per cent more in the past twelve months. And earners in Birmingham saw a 7 per cent boost to their incomes. It means that the average salary in the city is now in the region of £35,630.
The combined factors put a significant price break on the cost of living across the middle of the country. With some estimates suggesting property prices could increase by more than 19 per cent in the next five years, it may be that the Midlands is the recruitment growth market for the near-term.