Are women being paid less than men? A team from the Equal Opportunities Commission aims to find out by studying whether women get 'equal pay for equal work', or whether they are being paid less than their male counterparts. The team, which includes officials from the Civil Service Bureau, Standing Commission of Civil Services Salaries and Condition of Service, and the Labour Department will work out how to ensure the public and private sectors comply with the principle of equal pay. It will also compare the situation with overseas economies. The taskforce will also use civil service data to look at the differences between jobs and how different sectors comply with equal pay. Statistical analysis of the latest census data shows the gender earnings gap in Hong Kong is smaller than elsewhere in Asia. But an average working woman earns about 76 per cent of an average working man's wage from her main employment. Equal Opportunities Commissioner Anna Wu Hung-yuk said the SAR had a duty to implement pay equity under the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. She said the commission had been asked by the Home Affairs Bureau to address the problem of 'equal pay for work of equal value' to comply with the convention. It has already included this in codes of practice on employment. Conditions of employment were an important part of ensuring gender equality, Ms Wu said. 'For example, a female clerk is generally paid less than a male technician,' she said. 'We want to know whether gender discrimination is a factor contributing to this. 'If we find the pay difference between two jobs is due to nothing else but gender, then it must fall into our jurisdiction.' Ms Wu said it was the beginning of another 'long campaign'. 'Pay equity [based] on gender is a new concept to Hong Kong but we want people to be familiar with it,' she said. Constance Thomas, an International Labour Organisation expert on pay equity, will address the problem in Hong Kong at a seminar tomorrow. Unionist legislator Lee Cheuk-yan welcomed news of the study, saying it was the first step in pay equity. 'The Government has to take the lead on 'equal pay for the work of equal value'. It needs to provide some data and guidelines on how the principle can be adopted in the private sector,' he said.