THE GW4 PAY EQUALITY RESEARCH CONSORTIUM (PERC)
SUSTAINING COMMUNITIES FUND
Project period: January 2019 to June 2021
This community previously received Accelerator Funding for the project: The GW4 Pay Equality Research Consortium (PERC)
GW4 community leads
University of Bath: Susan Milner (PI)
University of Bristol: Susan Harkness
Cardiff University: Melanie Jones, Alison Parken
University of Exeter: Emma Jeanes
The aim of the project was initially to investigate how gender pay gap reporting regulations could be strengthened, and to look critically at the Equal Pay Act 1970 and Equality Act 2010 in order to identify gaps in the legislation and ways to strengthen it. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic caused a major disruption to the labour market, with negative impacts for women. The project therefore redirected its focus to examine the impact of the pandemic and identify lessons for policy.
The question of gender pay inequality remains important, even as the 50 year anniversary of the Equal Pay Act was celebrated in 2020. Gender pay gap reporting, which was suspended in 2020 due to the pandemic but resumed in 2021 with an extended deadline, has revealed the extent of inequalities within organisations and sectors but so far resulted in little change.
The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in significant adverse consequences for women, with many basic services such as childcare closed or operating at low levels of provision, job losses affecting particularly part-time female employees, loss of income, and difficulties of juggling home and family life in a context where women continue to provide the majority of care. Even where predominantly female jobs have been found to be essential, such as in nursing, pay levels are falling in real terms.
Working with Hazel Conley (University of the West of England) and Claire Evans (Cardiff Metropolitan University), and with Suzanna Nesom (a PhD student at Cardiff University), the community has been analysing Labour Force Data to investigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on women’s employment and pay. The project focuses on two groups of workers who have been very differently affected by lockdowns and restrictions: the key workers whose continued work was essential during lockdown, and employees of sectors which were closed or severely restricted in their activity. Both groups employ a majority of women. The findings will be published in a report and journal article.