AOP highlights 15.5% like-for-like pay gap between male and female optometrists

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4 April 2019
Source: Association of Optometrists

To coincide with nationwide gender pay gap reporting, the Association of Optometrists (AOP) is highlighting recent research which shows that on average women optometrists earn 15.5% less than men.

The findings have come from the Association’s 2018 Optometrists’ Futures survey, conducted by the Institute for Employment Studies (IES). Analysis of the survey data shows that when factors such as experience, time in the job and extra responsibilities were controlled for there was still a statistically significant gap in pay between men and women in the sector.

Since last year, all businesses employing over 250 staff have to publish the median salaries they pay to men and to women each April. Called gender pay gap reporting, this often reveals big gaps between men’s and women’s salaries.

Tony Stafford, AOP Policy Director, said that while pay gap reporting had an important role, the AOP’s research sought to give a more in-depth picture. The results will shape the Association’s support for members, both employees and employers.

Mr Stafford said: “The Government’s gender pay gap figures are very useful for showing the extent of inequality right across workplaces, where senior positions are often held by men. But they don’t tell us if men and women are being paid differently for doing similar jobs.

The AOP’s survey has looked at that question. We compared optometrists working more than 30 hours a week and found that on average, and after accounting for influencing factors as far as we could, women still earn 15.5% less than men.”

Commenting on how this information would be used to support members, Mr Stafford said: “Over the next few months the AOP will develop advice and resources for members who employ optometrists, to help them confirm and demonstrate that their approach to pay is fair. Differences in pay don’t in themselves amount to discrimination, but employers need to ensure that they have good reasons if they treat staff differently.

Ensuring fairness can also help with recruitment. Our survey showed many employers find it difficult to fill optometrist vacancies, and also that optometrists rate the culture and values of an employer highly when deciding where to work. It is in employers’ interests to be able to show their staff that they are being fair.”

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