A Critical Analysis of Unfair Employment Practices and the Gender Pay Gap
Despite significant progress towards gender equality over recent decades, a gender pay gap persists in workplaces around the world. This article will provide a critical analysis of unfair employment practices that contribute to the gender pay gap and explore the role of labour laws in addressing pay inequity between men and women.
The Gender Pay Gap: Recent Data and Trends
Current statistics illustrate the ongoing nature of the gender pay problem. According to the US Census Bureau, in 2020 women who worked full-time, year-round earned only 83 cents for every dollar earned by men [1]. Data from the UK indicates that in 2021, the gender pay gap stood at 15.4%, meaning women earned 15.4% less per hour, on average, than men [2]. While the gap has narrowed in many countries in recent years, women still earn less than men even when controlling for factors like occupation, industry, and qualifications [3].
Unfair Employment Practices Contributing to Inequity
Several unfair employment practices have been shown to disproportionately and negatively impact women’s pay. For example, bias and discrimination during recruitment and hiring can lead to women being offered lower starting salaries than men [4]. A lack of transparency around pay scales and salary negotiations also makes it difficult for women to advocate effectively for equal pay [5]. Additionally, women are more likely to work in female-dominated, lower-paying occupations and face barriers to advancement into higher-paying, male-dominated fields [6]. Inflexible work policies also disproportionately affect women, as they are more likely to require time off or reduced hours to care for children or family [7]. This “motherhood penalty” can stall career progression and earning potential.
The Role of Labour Laws in Addressing Inequity

Labour laws and policies play an important role in addressing unfair employment practices and reducing the gender pay gap. For example, laws prohibiting pay discrimination based on gender, such as the US Equal Pay Act of 1963 and UK Equality Act 2010, establish a legal right to equal pay for equal work [8,9]. Transparency laws, such as the UK Gender Pay Gap Information Regulations 2017, also help by requiring large employers to publicly report on gender pay differences [10]. Additionally, family-friendly policies like paid parental leave have been shown to mitigate the “motherhood penalty” and support women’s careers and pay over time [11,12]. While more progress is still needed, research indicates that strong anti-discrimination and transparency laws are effective at narrowing unfair gender pay differences [13,14].
In summary, this article has provided a critical analysis of ongoing unfair employment practices, such as bias, lack of transparency, and inflexible policies, and their role in perpetuating gender inequities in pay. It has also explored how labour laws and policies establish rights to equal pay and require transparency, helping to address discrimination and reduce unfair pay differences between men and women. While challenges remain, continued legal protections and family-friendly workplace standards are important for achieving fair compensation and gender equality in the workplace.

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average pay of men and women in an organisation. It is a persistent and global problem that affects women’s economic security, career opportunities and social justice. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), women are paid about 20 per cent less than men, on average, worldwide [1]. The gender pay gap is influenced by various factors, such as education, skills, experience, occupation, sector, working hours and family responsibilities. However, a large part of the gap is due to discrimination based on gender, which violates the principle of equal pay for work of equal value.

Equal pay means that all workers have the right to receive equal remuneration for work of equal value. This principle is enshrined in international human rights instruments, such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [2]. It is also a legal obligation for employers under the Equality Act 2010 in the UK [3]. Equal pay requires that jobs that are the same or similar, as well as jobs that are not the same but are of equal value, are paid equally. For example, a job in the construction sector may be of equal value to a job in the childcare sector, but the latter is likely to have lower pay due to gender stereotypes and undervaluation of women’s work [4].

Labour laws play a crucial role in ensuring equal pay and reducing the gender pay gap. They can provide legal frameworks and mechanisms to prevent, detect and remedy pay discrimination. They can also promote pay transparency, which is essential for exposing and addressing pay disparities between men and women. Pay transparency measures can include periodic pay disclosure, pay audits, and giving workers the right to access pay data [1]. Moreover, labour laws can support women’s participation and representation in the labour market, by providing protection from harassment, discrimination and violence, ensuring fair and flexible working conditions, and facilitating work-life balance.

However, labour laws alone are not enough to achieve equal pay and close the gender pay gap. They need to be effectively implemented and enforced, with the active involvement of employers’ and workers’ organisations. They also need to be complemented by other policies and measures that address the structural causes and consequences of gender inequality in society. These include investing in education and training for women and girls, challenging gender stereotypes and norms, providing quality public services and social protection, and enhancing women’s leadership and voice.

In conclusion, this paper has critically analysed the unfair employment practice of the gender pay gap and the role of labour laws in addressing it. It has argued that labour laws are necessary but not sufficient for ensuring equal pay for work of equal value and reducing pay discrimination based on gender. It has also suggested some recommendations for further action by governments, employers, workers and civil society.


[1] ILO (2022). Pay transparency legislation: Implications for employers’ and workers’ organizations. Geneva: International Labour Office.

[2] UN Women (2020). Explainer: Everything you need to know about pushing for equal pay. Retrieved from https://www.unwomen.org/en/news/stories/2020/9/explainer-everything-you-need-to-know-about-equal-pay
1. Blundell, J. (2021) Wage Response to Gender Pay Gap Reporting Requirements. Centre for Economic Performance. https://cep.lse.ac.uk/pubs/download/dp1750.pdf Accessed 13 May 2023.

2. Choudhry, I. (2020) Moving Towards Equal Pay: Closing the Gender Pay Gap. House of Lords Library. https://lordslibrary.parliament.uk/moving-towards-equal-pay-closing-the-gender-pay-gap/ Accessed 13 May 2023.

3. Davidson Morris (2021) Equal Pay Law: Write My Essay Today: No1 Essay Writing Service AU for Your Academic Papers – Guide For Employers https://www.davidsonmorris.com/equal-pay-act/ Accessed 15 May 2023.

4. Duncan, P.,Garcia, C., and Jolly, J. (2023) Women Still Paid Less Than Men at Four Out of Five Employers in Great Britain. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2023/apr/05/women-paid-less-than-men-four-out-of-five-employers-uk-gender-pay-gap#:~:text=The%20median%20pay%20gap%20remains,mechanism%20before%20this%20week’s%20deadline Accessed 15 May 2023.

5. Equality and Human Rights Commission (2021) What is Equal pay? https://www.equalityhumanrights.com/en/advice-and-guidance/what-equal-pay#:~:text=As%20set%20out%20in%20the,and%20employers%20must%20follow%20it Accessed 13 May 2023.

6. Gardner, J. (2018) ‘Equality for the Few: A Critical Analysis of the Equality Act 2010(U.K) From the Perspective of Gender Equality in the Workplace’ Master Thesis, UMEA University. P. 19.

7. Gov.UK (2022) Transparency Data: DIT Gender Pay Gap Report 2021 to 2022. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/dit-gender-pay-gap-report-and-data-2021-to-2022/dit-gender-pay-gap-report-2021-to-2022#:~:text=or%20a%20woman.-,The%20gender%20pay%20gap,and%20the%20median%20is%209.71%25 Accessed 15 May 2023

8. Oliveira, M., (2022) How Successful is the UK’s Equal Pay Legislation in Challenging the Gender Pay Reporting. https://www.studocu.com/en-gb/document/university-of-reading/research-writing-credit/how-sucessful-is-the-uks-equal-pay-legislation-in-challenging-the-gender-pay-gap/14908639 Accessed 14 May 2023.

9. Sharp, D. (2022) Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Its Impact and Possible Future. KPMG. https://kpmg.com/uk/en/blogs/home/posts/2022/02/gender-pay-gap-reporting-its-impact-and-possible-future.html#:~:text=Mandatory%20gender%20pay%20gap%20 Accessed 13 May 2023.

10. Soakell, C. and Leckey, C. (2022) Gender Pay Gap Reporting. Lewis Silkin. https://www.lewissilkin.com/en/insights/gender-pay-gap-reporting Accessed 13 May 2023.

11. UK Legislation (2017). The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2017/9780111152010 Accessed 15 May 2023.

12. UK.Legislation. (2017) The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations (2017)https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukdsi/2017/9780111153277/contents Accessed 15 May 2023.

[3] GOV.UK (2021). Overview – Gender pay gap reporting guidance for employers. Retrieved from https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/gender-pay-gap-reporting-guidance-for-employers/overview

[4] King, C. (2019). Equal Pay for Work of Equal Value: How do We Get There? Geneva: International Trade Union Confederation.

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