SA’s Gender Pay Gap Worse In Private Sector

Issued by: Staff writer – Joan Hendricks

The pay gap in the private sector is still extremely high said labour law expert in an interview with Refilwe Moloto on Cape Talk recently.

She said that employers use excuses such as lack of work experience to side-line women and that policies such as equal pay for equal work and laws upheld in the Employment Equity Act are not being adequately enforced.

Last year the Global Wage Report for 2018/2019 released research (as published on the South African website) that showed women, on average, making 20% less than their male equals globally and that men make 26.1% more when it comes to hourly income.

It also showed that the gender pay gap in South Africa had doubled since 2017 as there was a difference of 10% in 2017 but that changed in 2018 when it went up to little under 30% and then dropped again to 22%.

“Women are under-represented in all hourly wages. In fact, across the world, a sizeable proportion of women are left out of wage employment. In the case of high-income countries. Reduced participation of women in wage employment may be the consequence of motherhood status.” – Global Wage Report

Men believe the gender pay gap is made up

Meanwhile, a study done by the International Monetary Fund suggests that the benefits of women in the workplace are even greater than originally thought with women bringing new skills to the workplace, boosting productivity as well as the size of the workforce. Thus, IMF Head Christine Lagarde says that the world economy would also be less prone to financial collapse with more women in senior roles.

Time magazine recently published an article about an online poll that was conducted earlier this year, of 8,566 American adults reflected nearly half of men (46%) believe that the pay gap “is made up to serve a political purpose,” rather than being a “legitimate issue.” And about a quarter of men ages 18 to 34 (24%) say that media reports of men and women being paid unequally are “fake news,” one option provided in the poll. Overall, 62% of Americans believe that men make more money than women for similar types of work, with men and younger Americans most likely to incorrectly say that there is no gap in pay.

But the gender pay gap is a very real issue affecting women all over the world. With more and more research indicating that men and women are compensated differently for the same work, with women being paid much less money than their male counterparts.

Stricter laws might be a solution

Law for all’s Managing Director, Adv. Jackie Nagtegaal told IOL that stricter laws need to be implemented that requires companies to offer equal pay from the get-go. It should not be left up to employees to identify or become aware of pay disparity within their workplaces and then have to take a case to the CCMA, Labour Court, the Equality Court or Ombudsman; pay equality should be a given.

“There is also an international call for employers to be more transparent about their operations so that equality is a fundamental and not an exception in the workplace,” says Nagtegaal.

When or if these laws will be implemented remains to be seen but until then the gender pay gap issue is will continue to be a topic of great concern in the fight to build a fair and equal society.