Equal work, equal pay

What you need to know:

  • Equal work, equal pay is not just about closing the remuneration gaps between different genders but ensuring that everybody, irrespective of the gender, sexuality, race or any other distinct trait are paid fairly like others doing the same job or work of the same value

The term “equal work, equal pay” is mostly associated with closing the pay gaps between men and women in case the job done is similar or of the same value. With equality gaining more recognition, ensuring that pay and benefits of work of the same value has become an important aspect in today’s workplace.
Equal work, equal pay is not just about closing the remuneration gaps between different genders but ensuring that everybody, irrespective of the gender, sexuality, race or any other distinct trait are paid fairly like others doing the same job or work of the same value. This means that closing payment gaps between women and men, citizens and refugees, immigrants and citizens, different ethnicities, among others, as long as they are doing the same job or work of the same value. 

Equal work in this regard relates to work which requires the same competencies without significant differences in the workplace, work which is equivalent in relation to the job demands and work which is different but equal in value. Equal pay extends to associated bonuses and allowances or any other pay claims.
For institutions to successfully instill equal work, equal pay, a number of factors come into play. Among these include the job classification systems, which stipulate the job requirements, demands and associated benefits.

Job classification systems provide job characteristics and expected outcomes which can be used as a benchmark to determine whether different jobs are equal and thus require equal pay or not. Job classification systems can also be designed to be gender-neutral and non-biased, which can correct gender, background and other biases, which could reinforce pay disparities.

Second, equal work, equal pay legislation may be drafted to eliminate discriminatory elements in payments by advocating for transparency and redressing disparities in payments. Equal work, equal pay legislation can provide clarity in pay and grading systems and provide measures for redressing discretionary pay systems, out-of-date job evaluations, non-payment of contractual bonuses, different non-basic pay terms and conditions among employees, long and overlapping pay scales and indefinite pay protection policies. This would guide management teams in designing equal pay policies, creating clear and transparent job descriptions and titles, undertaking job evaluation schemes and evaluating grading structures and systems.

To conclude, achieving equality in the workplace is greatly influenced by payment structures. Payment structures can be instruments for inequality if they favour a given group of people compared to others. Unequal pay gaps not only affect women but could also affect minorities such as people with disabilities, refugees, people from marginalised races or ethnic groups and those with different sexual orientations.
This is why designing equal work policies is important to ensure that these groups of people are not affected by pay gaps due to who they are. Institutions therefore have to ensure equality in pay structures by evaluating job classification systems to ensure that they harbour no forms of biases, promoting transparency to do away with discretions in pay packages and eliminating any form of biases. Even if pay gaps are still persistent in all countries and sectors in the world, the narrative can be changed if leaders come on board to promote equality in pay structures in their workplaces.

Discussions about pay inequality should also be taken seriously and addressed so as to redress pay inequalities in different sectors of the economy. “Equal work, equal pay” should not be a slogan that is chanted but a term that inspires and motivates people to act to ensure that there are no payment disparities. Without payment disparities, everybody, irrespective of their background or identity is given an equal chance to thrive, which is the basis for equality.
            Ipolito T. Mubiru is the executive director for African Diversity and Inclusion Centre .

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