More men (35%) are unaware of the Equal Pay Act – enforced almost 50 years ago – than their female counterparts (33%), according to a survey by gender equality campaigners the Fawcett Society and law charity YESS Law.
The research comes one day before Equal Pay Day, the point in which women effectively start to work for free for the rest of the year.
On average, 52% of workers said believe their managers would react negatively to more openness on the subject, while 30% say their contract prohibits them from talking about wages with colleagues.
More than half of women (53%), and 47% of men would be uncomfortable talking about their wages with a colleague, while 60% of workers were unaware of their legal right to do so if concerned over pay discrimination.
“In workplaces all over the country, pay discrimination is able to thrive and is more common than people realise because of a culture of pay secrecy which persist,” said Sam Smethers, CEO of the Fawcett Society.
However the figure varied slightly between men (38%) and women (26%) when it came to an awareness of the right to discuss pay over concerns of gender discrimination.
“People do not know their basic rights and do not know what their colleagues earn,” Smethers said.
On average 50% would share pay information with a colleague they did not know very well if they thought they might be experiencing discrimination.
This jumps to 62% of women and 57% of men if they knew this colleague well.