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A worrying survey has found that female solicitors are effectively working from free from mid-August as a result of the gender pay gap in the legal sector.
According to new research from the Law Society of Scotland show that throughout a legal career there can be as much as a 42% difference in salaries between males and females. The research analysed average full-time salaries between males and females and looked at the difference at each level of employment, with salaries varying between 2% to 42% at numerous stages,
The news has been strongly criticised by equality and diversity groups and highlights the issues that can arise in an employment sector that attempts to be open and equal. Janet Hood, convener of the Society’s equality and diversity committee, said the pay gap reflected “very badly on what is otherwise a modern and forward-thinking profession", with some female solicitors "effectively working for free for five months of the year".
She also criticised the fact that the legal sector often represented workers in different sectors who were not getting equal pay but were not able to employ said practices in their own firms. She said “Quite simply, it is not something we can afford to ignore, for either ethical or business reasons.
“Many government and other organisations sourcing legal services also include equality criteria as part of their tendering processes. If law firms are not taking steps to ensure that they are meeting these, they could be adversely affected.”
The report found that there were differences between payment levels based on the level of employment in legal firms. At the early stage of employment, there was little difference between males and females in terms of salary and job role. However, from 36 years-old the figures showed that women tended to have a lower salary. Most men earned over £65,000 while for females; this was the maximum salary earned at such an age for females.
The survey found that more males were likely to go on to earn more than £65,000 but for many males it was the maximum amount. Females were more likely to remain in an associate role rather than obtain a promotion with a 32% salary gap for solicitors who had been qualified and operated for 31 years or more.
Although there has been much progress in female employment (with Scotland having one of the highest rates in the world) and the UK attempting to bring in initiatives to eradicate the gender pay gap. However, in many sectors and companies this sadly still exists. Regardless of your role, your sexual orientation or your gender you are entitled to minimum wage and basic employment rights. If you are being underpaid, harassed or mistreated in the workplace, you could be entitled to make a claim.
We are experts in all employment aspects from equal pay to settlement agreements. Get in touch with our employment lawyers today using our online contact form.