The survey asked women about male colleagues in the same role or a very similar role to them. Three in 10 or 29 per cent women polled said they had no idea what any of their male colleagues were paid, leaving them unaware of possible discrimination (Photo: MENAHEM KAHANA/AFP via Getty Images).


A REPORT released to mark Equal Pay Day on Thursday (14) suggests unlawful pay discrimination may be more widespread than previously feared.

The majority of women in workplaces across the UK don’t know what their male colleagues earn, or believe they are earning less than men who are doing the same job, Fawcett Society said in the report.

The survey asked women about male colleagues in the same role or a very similar role to them. Three in 10 or 29 per cent women polled said they had no idea what any of their male colleagues were paid, leaving them unaware of possible discrimination.

Alarmingly, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act 1970, four in 10 (37 per cent) women who knew what their male counterparts earned reported that those men are paid more.

Just 40 per cent of working women said they know they are being paid the same as male colleagues doing the same or very similar work to them.

There is also worrying news for employers, with two thirds of women (65 per cent) saying finding out they are paid less than male counterparts has a detrimental impact on how they feel about their job or their employer.

This includes feeling less motivated (33 per cent) and wanting to leave their job (20 per cent).

The personal cost to the women themselves is significant, with 42 per cent saying they felt undervalued and 38 per cent reported feeling angry and upset.

Fewer than one in four (23 per cent) said they understood the reasons they were paid less.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “… Women need an enforceable ‘Right to Know’ what their colleagues earn so that they can challenge unequal pay.

“This is about much more than money. Women have told us they felt furious, devastated, exploited and undervalued. Pay discrimination has a significant negative impact on how they feel about their employer.

“A Right to Know will also reduce waste in the court system, and head off legal action by encouraging employers to settle cases before they get to court.”

Fawcett’s report ‘Why Women Need a Right to Know’ calls for a change in law to give women a ‘Right to Know’ what a male colleague or colleagues earn if they suspect there is pay discrimination.

The polling shows that eight in 10 (79 per cent) people support the change, saying they agree that a woman should be able to find out whether she is being paid less than a man for equal work.

That includes three-quarters (74 per cent) of men.