Gender pay

Hospitality and gender pay disparity

UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced that from 2016, British businesses with more than 250 workers will have to publish the details of the salaries that they pay to their employees. This is in an effort to end the disparity between male and female pay packets.

According to estimates supplied by the BHA (British Hospitality Association), around sixty percent of people employed by the tourism and hospitality sector are female. There are, however, concerns that the number of part-time employees employed by the industry could create inaccurate data.

A little over half of the number of hospitality businesses in the UK make use of zero-hours contacts. Of those on such non-permanent contracts, the majority are female.

“The new government consultation does not specify a preferred metric used to determine the gender pay gap and since our industry has a substantial number of part time workers the metric used could be important,” said the deputy chief executive of BHA, Martin Couchman.

A partner at Employment and Pensions, Weightmans LLP, Jawaid Rehman, says that this disclosure legislation could see hospitality firms facing an increase in the number of claims made against them for equal pay.

“The hospitality industry is particularly susceptible to equal pay claims because there is likely to be gender imbalances in certain roles which may be of equal value, such as waiting staff and kitchen staff, and also there may be local salary variations where employers have multi sites,” warned Rehman. “It is important therefore to be proactive and carry out an equal pay audit prior to pay reporting becoming mandatory. The audit may highlight discrepancies, but there could be valid reasons for differences, which can be evidenced and documented. If not, measures can be put in place to reduce any gaps highlighted. Doing nothing is not an option.”

According to figures supplied by, women’s salaries in the hospitality industry in 2014 were eighteen percent lower than their male counterparts. The average male salary was £18,497, compared to the average female salary of £15,665.

The executive director at People 1st, and the founder of the Women 1st campaign, Sharon Glancy, welcomed David Cameron’s plans and said it was a positive step forwards.

“Addressing the pay gap is one of the simplest measures that firms can implement to encourage more women into work and aid their progression through the ranks, yet a significant pay gap exists between men and women in hospitality,” said Glancy.

“Eliminating the gender pay gap ‘within a generation’, as the Prime Minister has pledged, is no mean feat given the weight of the current problem. We have a mountain to climb, yet in the new world where greater transparency reigns, this should also be viewed as an opportunity for root and branch change. Through the Women 1st campaign, People 1st will be doing all it can to support this vibrant and exciting industry to affect such change, helping to transform the boardrooms of the future.”