Abolishing or diminishing the gender pay gap is not only a hot topic in Japan, but also a key topic in England.

In the UK, average pay for men is greater than that for women. In 2015, the difference between the average hourly wage for men and women working full time was 9.4%. The gap between average male and female pay widens considerably among workers aged 40 and over.

In February 2016, the government published the draft Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016. The draft reporting regulations apply to employers of 250 or more employees and require:

- Publication of overall gender pay gap figures calculated on a mean and median basis;
- Reporting on the number of men and women in each salary quartile;
- Publication of information on the gender pay gap relating to bonuses.

Consultation on the draft reporting regulations outcome is expected this summer.

Causes for the gap in pay has been identified by The Women and Equalities Select Committee to be:

- Occupational segregation;
- Part-time pay penalty;
- Women’s disproportionate responsibility for unpaid caring;
- Women’s concentration in low-paid, highly feminised sectors such as caring and leisure services;

In light of this, the following recommendations for employers and the government have been made by the Select Committee:

- A new right for fathers to three months of paid non-transferrable paternal leave;
- All jobs should be available on a flexible basis, by default; and
- A new right for employees to take six weeks carers’ leave to deal with short-term care issues.

In Japan's corporate culture, there is still a seniority wage system, based on the age and length of service of employees. It has been in place since the 1950s. But in recent years, there has been a new push from Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to shake up Japan's labour market. Big companies have once again announced their plans to shift away from the seniority wage system and move towards the Western skills and performance based wage system.

It looks to be some time before we can say that the equal pay gap has been bridged, however a key topic for both Japan and England – it is clear that both have the intention of moving towards a more fair system of paying employees between women and men, the young and old.
For further information, please contact Koichiro Nakada – Head of Japan Business Group (koichiro.nakada@lewissilkin.com) and Yoko Nakada - Senior Associate, Deputy Head of Japan Business Group (yoko.nakada@lewissilkin.com).
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