A ban on salary secrecy could help to destroy the culture that traps many women in low paid jobs, according to a leading charity.
The Young Women’s Trust believes that employers should stop asking job applicants how much they are earning and include salary details in advertisements to help close the gender pay gap.
The charity, which campaigns on behalf of young women on low or no pay, believes the UK could learn a lot from US states which have already banned employers from asking candidates about their previous pay.
Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: “We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay. Women often start work on a lower salary than men. They then move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth; so they continue to be paid less.
“Ending this practice is crucial to ending the gender pay gap.”
She added: “Our research shows that women are more likely to disregard jobs if they feel their skills don’t match up to them, compared to men who often apply anyway.
“Including salary details in job adverts would help women to see that jobs are, in fact, at their level and give them an idea of where they should be negotiating from to progress their pay.”
The charity commissioned a YouGov survey of employers, which found that nearly half asked prospective employees about their current salary. Forty two per cent of respondents said they did not include any wage details when advertising roles.
The practice is most common in the private sector.
A spokesman said: “Some US states and cities have already banned employers from asking candidates about previous pay.
“The Young Women’s Trust says that, other than in exceptional circumstances, UK organisations should follow suit.
“In the past year, New York City and California have outlawed the practice, which perpetuates existing gender pay gaps.
“Asking the salary question means that women who were underpaid in their previous job are more likely to be underpaid in their next one. It also disadvantages anyone moving to an area with a higher cost of living.”
The Young Women’s Trust believes that making pay more transparent would make it harder for employers to pay men and women different amounts for similar roles.
The spokesman added: “Many employers agree that organisations should publish salary details for all roles to increase transparency, with some saying it is best practice, because it encourages more applicants.
“In the survey, 48 per cent of employers were in favour of the measure to bring about gender equality in the workplace.”
Joe Levenson, the director of communications at the Young Women’s Trust, said failing to advertise vacancies with salary bands can perpetuate existing pay gaps.
The gender pay gap starts from the moment women begin working, according to the Young Women’s Trust.
The charity’s research found that young women apprentices earn eight per cent less than their male counterparts, leaving them more than £1,000 a year worse off.
The trust’s research also found that across all subject areas, men are earning on average £2,900 more than women, just five years after completing their degree.
The Young Women’s Trust’s analysis of Office for National Statistics data found that women lose out on nearly £140bn a year in total due to the full-time gender pay gap.
Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 in England and Wales who could be facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don’t go to waste.
The trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a poll of people making employment decisions.
The total sample size was 816 senior human resources professionals and people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between April and May 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size, sector and region.