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Calls are renewed for Equal pay audits

Calls are renewed for Equal pay audits

2nd November 2009

Equality campaigners, pressure groups and trade unions have renewed calls for decisive government action on closing the gender pay gap. A coalition of campaigners made a joint statement published in the Guardian Newspaper (can be viewed by clicking here) intended to coincide with Equal Pay day.

From the 30th October of each year women effectively earn their last pay cheque of the year if the national average full time gender pay gap percentage of 17.1% is taken into account. However in some areas of the country the gap is far more significant. New figures revealed by the Fawcett Society show in areas such West Somerset gap is high as 53%, while in Windsor and Maidenhead it is 49% and in South Northamptonshire it’s as high as 43%.

A poll commissioned by the Fawcett Society and Unison shows strong national support for Mandatory pay audits. As many as 85% of those surveyed  showed  support the introduction of a legal requirement on employers to conduct pay audits in order to stamp out the gender pay gap.

The survey also revealed that many people are unaware of the gender pay gap. 48% of men and 32% of women believe that on the whole men and women receive equal pay for doing jobs of equal value. When they are told that “women are paid on average 23% less than men for doing jobs of equal value”, 94% of those surveyed agreed that it is important to eliminate the gender pay gap.

Campaigners are arguing that strengthening legislation is fundamental and vital to instigating change. They see the Equality Bill is a one in a life time opportunity to address the issue.  Equal pay legislation was introduced over 40 years ago and the pay gap has remained stagnant for the past decade, indications the gap is now widening reaffirm current provisions do not work.

The Single Equality Bill does have a provision which is enforceable in 2013 which will force offending employers with over 250 staff to conduct audits. The Fawcett society argues this does not go far enough. The Coalition have also asked for representative actions (Such as class actions) to be allowed in equal pay cases, to free up and speed up the tribunal system.

Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, commented:
Our pay gap map illustrates that pay inequality is not only national scandal it’s also a local problem with some areas showing a pay gap of over 50%. But this is not a landscape the British people are willing to tolerate. The Equality Bill offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform equal pay law and stamp out the pay gap. We urge the Government to place a legal duty on employers to check for and rectify any gender pay gaps – a measure supported by the vast majority of the British public. Women must also be given greater access to justice by enabling representative actions and the use of hypothetical comparators in discrimination claims.

“Women were promised equal pay nearly forty years ago when the Equal Pay Act was passed. It’s time to finally make good on that pledge.”  


Ends

Coalition signatories are listed below
Ceri Goddard, Chief Executive, Fawcett Society
Dave Prentis, General Secretary, UNISON
Brendan Barber, General Secretary, TUC
Sally Hunt, General Secretary, UCU
Olivia Bailey, National Women’s Officer, NUS
Cath Speight, Unite
Amanda Ariss, Chief Executive, Equality and Diversity Forum
Discrimination Law Association
Professor Aileen McColgan, Kings College London
Professor Ruth Lister CBE FBA, Loughborough University
Karon Monaghan QC, Matrix Chambers
Kate Wareing, Director for UK poverty, Oxfam
Sarah Jackson, Chief Executive, Working Families
Fiona Weir, Chief Executive, Gingerbread
Vivienne Hayes, Chief Executive, Women’s Resource Centre
Sarah Payne, Chief Executive, YWCA
Neal Lawson, Chair, Compass
Mark Donne, Director, Fair Pay Network
Sophie Cameron, Practical Law

posted by

Asif Yusuf

 

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