Thursday, 6 April 2017

Welcome transparency about the gender pay gap

Today Section 78 of the Equality Act comes into force, which requires that all businesses with over 250 employees conduct and publish a gender pay audit. These changes are important because they mean that for the first time, large employers have to be transparent about their gender pay gap.

The WI has been campaigning for equal pay for equal work since 1943, so we welcome these changes which will bring more openness about the pay gap between women and men. The gender pay gap now stands at 9.4% for full time workers and 18.1% for all types of workers/contracts. This means that women will earn significantly less than men over their entire careers, so more openness about this important issues is long overdue.

Yesterday was the final date by which eligible employers had to take a snapshot of their pay data and they now have until 5 April 2018 to publish their gender pay gap figures.
Companies will have to report their pay gap in a number of ways, including average pay gaps and bonus pay gaps. All this information must be published on the employer’s website for at least three years.

The ultimate goal of these changes is to make employers aware of their gender pay gap, urge them to take action to close it, and shed light on rates of pay so that employees are better informed.
Throughout 2015 and 2016, the NFWI contributed to government consultations and participated in talks with the Government Equalities Office on how to best implement these changes. We used that opportunity to highlight issues affecting women in work, such as: maternity discrimination, up-skilling for older women, and the need for well-paid, part-time roles. 

For gender pay audits to be effective, employees need to understand what the data actually mean. We’ve had look over the finalised regulations to find out how you will be able to access data from your own employer (if they’re eligible) and how you should interpret the figures.

How to access the information
The rules mean that employers with more than 250 employees must publish their results on their own website in an easily accessible way and on a dedicated website (which has yet to go live). The information must be published on the employer’s website for at least 3 years. The government website hub will allow employees to compare their employers with equivalents in the field with greater ease and will shed light on which businesses are underperforming. 

How to interpret the information
According to government guidelines, employers will have to produce data in a range of ways that will allow a fair picture of pay practices across the board to emerge. It is crucial that employees understand how to unpick this data, so we’ve provided an explanation below. 

The two most important sets of data that employers will need to publish are:
1) The difference in mean pay between male and female employees and
2) The difference in median pay between male and female employees
Both figures will give an average of the difference in pay between male and female employees, however they will do this in very different ways:
The mean pay will use all female employees’ salaries added together and divided by the number of female employees, and all male employees’ salaries added together and divided by the number of male employees. This will calculate the average difference between pay for men and women.

The median pay will take all the salaries for women, list them from lowest to highest and take the salary that falls exactly in the middle, doing the same for male employees, and using the two figures to calculate the pay difference.

As a result of this, organisations will publish mean and median figures that are quite different from one another. For example, if an organisation employs 4 women earning £10 an hour and 1 woman earning £40 an hour, and also employs 5 men earning £12 an hour, the median pay for women will be £10 while the median pay for men will be £12. Using the same data, the mean pay for women will be £16, while the mean pay for men will be £12. Despite the fact that only one woman is earning more than 5 other men, the mean figure would suggest that women are being paid, on average, more than men, when in reality the majority of women are being paid less.
Being able to distinguish between these figures will be vital for continuing the campaign to close the wage gap for all women.

Employers will also need to publish the difference between mean bonus pay paid to male and female employees, the proportion of male and female staff that were paid bonuses, and proportions of male and female employees in quartile pay bands. 

The NFWI will be monitoring the introduction of these rules, and will continue to push for more action to tackle the gender pay gap so that women are paid fairly.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Spotlight on Plastic Soup

Two resolutions will be going forward to the Annual Meeting in Liverpool on 7th June, so it is now time for WIs to consider how they wish their delegate to vote.

Each WI should now consider each resolution individually, not voting for one over the other. You can instruct your delegate to vote ‘FOR’, ‘AGAINST’ or you can give her ‘DISCRETION’ to decide on the day of the Annual Meeting. If both resolutions are passed, the NFWI will work on both issues.

Yesterday we considered the resolution focusing on loneliness, so today it is the turn of Plastic Soup.

The resolution focuses on the problem of microplastic fibres entering the oceans. These fibres can be shed from synthetic clothes when they are washed.

You can find out more about the problem by reading our short briefing notes.

Here’s a video from Plymouth University that explains how microfibres are shed through the washing process:

As these fibres are synthetic, they don’t biodegrade, and can be mistaken by marine life for food. Here’s a video showing a plastic microfibre entering plankton:

You may also wish to watch the trailer for A Plastic Ocean, a documentary that shows the scale of microplastic pollution in the ocean:

Prevention could be key to tackling this problem at source. There is also a need for further research to identify the scale of the problem and consider solutions. This video calls on clothing manufacturers to take action to tackle the problem:

Once you have read the notes and watched the films, you can test your knowledge by taking our quiz.

If you are holding discussions in your WI or Federation, you could use our presentation to discuss the issue.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Spotlight on Alleviating Loneliness

It’s that time of year again to start thinking about Annual Meeting resolutions! 

Over 91,000 members selected their preferred resolution to move forward to the Annual Meeting, and two resolutions will be going forward to the Annual Meeting. 

They are:

Alleviating loneliness

This meeting calls on every WI and the NFWI to work alongside health and social care providers and their local community to raise awareness of the causes and impacts of loneliness, thus ensuring better identification of lonely people in order to be able to offer them the appropriate assistance and support.

Plastic Soup: Keep microplastic fibres out of our ocean  

Microplastic fibres are shed from synthetic clothing with every wash and are the main contributors to microplastic contamination of the oceans. The NFWI calls on Government and industry to research and develop innovative solutions to this problem in order to stop the accumulation of microplastic fibres in our oceans.

Now it’s up to you and your WI to take time over the next two months to consider how you would like your delegate to vote on each resolution. You can instruct her to vote ‘FOR’, ‘AGAINST’, or you can give her ‘DISCRETION’ to decide on the day of the Annual Meeting. 

You don’t need to vote for one over the other – you must consider each individually.

In this blogpost we shine a spotlight on loneliness, to help you find out more about the subject and consider how you wish your delegate to vote.

To help you decide, we have put together some resources in a variety of formats for you and your fellow members to learn about the topic, test your knowledge, and share your findings at your next meeting. 

To learn the basics about what loneliness is, who it impacts, and its personal, societal, and economic costs, consult our short briefing paper.

It’s a good idea to print copies of the briefing paper out and hand out at your next meeting if you’re going to be discussing resolutions.

Once you think you’ve learned about loneliness, take our short quiz to test your knowledge

If you think loneliness just impacts older people think again. Many different groups of people are vulnerable to feeling chronically lonely. Watch this short Channel 4 video about new mums grappling with loneliness: 

If you would like to present this topic to your WI and you’re having trouble finding a speaker, why not do it yourself? You can use this presentation

We hope these resources help your WI arrive at a consensus about whether or not you would like to support this resolution. If you have any queries about this resolution, or the resolutions process in general, please contact the NFWI Public Affairs department at or 020 7371 9300 ext. 212.  

Next we will be focusing on Plastic Soup so watch this space for tomorrow’s blogpost.