Gender gap closing a bit, but equal-pay claims still rise — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

Gender gap closing a bit, but equal-pay claims still rise

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Reminder to employers: You may have heard that the gender pay gap is closing somewhat. But don't slack off in your efforts to comply with the Equal Pay Act.

The 40-year-old law requires that you provide men and women with equal pay and benefits for equal work. Courts will let you set different pay levels based only on employees' job skills, effort, responsibility and working conditions.

Thanks largely to women's increasing presence in management-level and professional jobs, the average hourly wage of female U.S. workers is now $19.16 an hour, not far behind male employees' $22.29 an hour, according to a new Family and Work Institute survey of 3,500 workers.

In comparison, the institute's 1997 survey found a $15.05 average hourly wage for women versus a $21.38 hourly wage earned by men.

While the hourly wage outlook improved, women's annual salaries still fall short of men's. Women earn $36,716 on average each year compared with $52,908 for men, according to the study.

Top reasons: More women engage in part-time work and, overall, they work fewer hours than men. Ellen Galinsky, president of the institute, says women are generally compensated less "because they spend less time traveling and their need for more flextime means that their jobs are valued less. The flexibility has a cost."

Resource: For more on complying with the EPA, visit www.eeoc.gov/epa.

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