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11 699 2 Consultation Modern Workplaces Equal Pay

11 699 2 Consultation Modern Workplaces Equal Pay

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Published by: bisgovuk on May 16, 2011
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06/22/2011

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CONSULTATION ON MODERN WORKPLACES
iv) Equal pay
MAY 2011
 
 
6. Equal pay
This chapter sets out proposals for further action to tackle the gender paygap. We aim to ensure that employers who have breached the law on equalpay take appropriate action to rectify the problem. We therefore propose torequire employment tribunals to make an employer, who is found to havediscriminated on pay, conduct a pay audit (unless the tribunal feels thiswould not be productive). By focusing on those employers who have failedto comply with the law, this approach ensures we do not add burdens foremployers that follow good practice on equal pay.Current situation
1. The legal framework requiring equal pay for equal work between men and women hasbeen in place since the Equal Pay Act 1970 came into force in 1975. Yet there is still asignificant gender pay gap: women who work full time in the public sector are paid onaverage10 per cent less than men and that figure rises to 19.8 per cent in the privatesector.
1
 2. There are many different causes of the pay gap such as occupational segregation and theimpact of taking time out of the labour market to have children. We are committed toaddressing these underlying causes through our other proposals in this consultation onextending the right to request flexible working to all and introducing a new system of flexibleparental leave. We will also work to improve careers advice to women and girls to ensurethat they are aware of the options open to them and the consequences of career decisions.3. To help drive change further we will promote transparency across the public and privatesector. In October we brought into force legislation to make so-called ‘gagging clauses’unenforceable to allow employees to discuss pay if they are concerned that they may bevictims of discrimination. But we want to go even further, which is why we are asking privateand voluntary sector employers to help tackle the gender pay gap through greatertransparency on pay and other issues. We are working with the CBI, TUC and others todevelop a framework for voluntary gender equality reporting.4. At the same time, where an employer has been shown not to be complying with equal paylaw, we need to ensure that any systemic discrimination underlying an individual case isidentified and corrected. Currently, individually enforceable rights do not always enablechallenge to wider or systemic unfairness in pay and reward, because the resolution of a
1
2010 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, ONS (2010).
 
Modern Workplaces
3
single case does not necessarily expose all the sex-related pay inequality within theworkforce.
Causes of the gender pay gap
The causes of the pay gap are complex. Research published by the Government EqualitiesOffice (GEO) in February 2010 found the key causes of the pay gap were the impact onwages of having previously worked part-time or of having taken time out of the labourmarket to look after family, and the different industries and occupations in which men andwomen tend to work.
2
 Further studies have looked at why these issues still persist and have found that women’schoices in the labour market are still constrained by a range of factors, notably theavailability and affordability of childcare and the availability of family-friendly working.These constraints contribute to withdrawal from the labour market, occupationaldowngrading, reduced hourly pay and temporary working.
3
 However, there remains 36 per cent of the pay gap which cannot be explained byobservable factors, so where discrimination has been shown to take place it is important tofind out the reasons and take action to prevent further cases of discrimination occurring.
The case for change
5. It is important that the employment tribunal process works to resolve equal pay disputeseffectively. There is currently relatively little information available on the progress of equalpay cases from the initial dispute in the workplace to resolution at tribunal. We will addressthis by conducting research which will improve our understanding of how cases progress, inwhat circumstances parties settle claims and what happens following a finding by a tribunalthat an equality clause has been breached.6. Where employers have been found guilty of pay discrimination it is right that action can betaken to ensure maximum transparency and address any wider unfairness in the employerspay and reward structure, helping to avoid further cases of discrimination in future. So wherethere has been a breach of equality of terms, or discrimination because of sex in non-contractual pay matters, we believe that action is needed to ensure that other members ofthe employer’s workforce are not being treated just as unfairly. Such an approach willsupplement the voluntary approach we are taking to encourage companies to publishrelevant pay data.7. Together with our work to promote voluntary equality reporting, we believe this will lead tofar greater transparency in pay matters, in turn giving employers and employees greaterconfidence that their pay systems are fair.
2
The gender pay gap in the UK 1995-2007, GEO (2010).
3
Ibid.

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