White people were paid, on average, 10p more per hour than all ethnic groups combined in 2017, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
BEIS have this month launched a consultation on ethnicity pay gap reporting, which it said will inform future government policy on ethnicity pay reporting.
The consultation seeks views on ethnicity pay reporting by employers. It sets out options and asks questions on what ethnicity pay information should be reported by employers to allow for meaningful action, who should be expected to report and the next steps on this policy.
Latest figures from BEIS show that in 2017, the average hourly pay for white people was £11.34 - 10p higher than the average hourly pay for people from all other ethnic groups combined.
However, people from the Indian ethnic group had the highest hourly pay on average earning £13.14, while people from the Pakistani/Bangladeshi ethnic groups earned the lowest, at £9.52 on average.
BEIS said ethnic pay disparities are not primarily about those from a white background and other ethnic groups being paid differently for the same job. The Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate, both directly and indirectly, against employees, and people seeking work, because of their race.
Therefore, it said that unless there is a failure to comply with existing law, pay disparities between ethnic groups are likely to be due to other factors that impose a disadvantage on people from ethnic minorities without being explicitly discriminatory.
Peter Cheese, chief executive of the CIPD, said it’s important to remember ethnicity pay gap reporting will only have a positive effect if it leads to changes in how employees from a minority ethnic background are recruited, managed, developed and promoted.
The CIPD said this is why there is a need for employers to report on their action plan in response to their ethnicity pay gap data if the proposed new legislation is to act as a game changer.
Cheese added: ”We believe that work should work for everyone. There needs to be more people from different backgrounds in senior level positions in the public and private sector and role models for the next generation. That’s why we’re delighted to sign the new Race at Work Charter, which builds on our commitment to championing better work and working lives for people and society."
Responses to the consultation should be submitted by January 11 2019.