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How contractors can beat the gender pay gap

Paystream News

Kerry Hull

Thursday 23rd Nov, 2017

Personal service company contractors can set their own pay rates, effectively beating the UK's large gender pay gap.

Friday November 10th marked Equal Pay Day in the UK, the day after which women are effectively working for free for the rest of the year.

This is because, even in 2017, women's salaries often do not match those received by their male counterparts.

Just how big is the UK gender pay gap?

On average, men earn around six weeks' more pay than women in similar roles - equivalent to the stretch from now until the end of the year.

In some parts of the country, the gender pay gap is even wider, with women earning around three months' less than men, meaning they effectively work for free from September onwards.

According to research from Adzuna, Chester is the most sexist city in terms of having the largest gender pay gap, with women taking home an average of £25,000 a year in comparison to men's £38,000. In contrast, Belfast had the narrowest gap (£25,000 for women compared to £30,000 for men).

What's more, new analysis from the Fawcett Society suggests that the gap is now so big that it could take up to 100 years to close. Currently, it stands at 14.1 per cent; if this closes at the same pace it has been doing in recent years, men and women will not be earning equally until 2117, the campaign group highlighted.

Government action

At the end of last month, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that the government would be working with businesses to help close the gender pay gap, saying: "The gender pay gap isn't going to close on its own - we all need to be taking sustained action to make sure we address this.

"We need to see a real step change in the number of companies publishing their gender pay data and offering progression and flexibility for all employees. That's why today I am calling on more businesses, both small and large, to take action to make sure the gender pay gap is eliminated once and for all."

However, General Secretary of the Trades Union Congress Frances O'Grady believes that this isn't good enough, calling Mrs May's announcement "a damp squib".

"Companies should be forced to publish their pay gaps - not merely encouraged," Ms O'Grady stated.

"Real action would be fining businesses who do not share information on what men and women are paid, and making firms explain what steps they are taking to close their pay gaps."

But workers do not need to just sit around and wait for these changes to occur. Some - including limited company contractors, freelancers and other self-employed individuals - are already taking matters into their own hands, setting their own pay rates and beating the gender pay gap.

No gender pay gap for contractors

Limited company contractors have greater control over all aspects of their work, including which clients they work with, their start and finish times, and how much they are paid.

By setting their own pay rates, contractors and freelancers can make sure they are being paid fairly for the work that they do, regardless of age, gender or even experience - as long as they can demonstrate to their clients that the cost is justified, they are adding value and the client will receive a good return on their investment.

Contracting could be an option for those currently feeling hugely underpaid in their current role, but calling on the government to do more to help close the gap will help to bring about greater change for all workers in the long run.

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