The Labour Party has re-iterated its commitment to closing the gender pay
gap by announcing new measures to speed up equal pay tribunal cases.
Announcing the changes, employment minister Tessa Jowell said,
"Simplifying legislation and making it faster and fairer is an important
step in tackling the gender pay gap."
She added that the Government intends to tackle "the red tape and
bureaucracy" of taking an equal pay case to a tribunal in three ways: by
streamlining the paperwork involved; by using an assessor to hear cases as
quickly as possible and by making the tribunal process fairer by removing the
"no reasonable grounds" defence and the two year time limit on back
By simplifying the paperwork, in future if a group of workers wish to make a
pay claim, they will be able to use a single form.
Welcoming the proposals, Julie Mellor, chair of the Equal Opportunities
Commission said, "The slow and complicated nature of equal pay tribunals
has been a barrier to many women who bring equal pay claims, and having cases
that can drag on for years does not benefit employers either, so these
improvements to the system are welcome."
The Government will also make £145,000 available to unions to train
representatives to carry out pay reviews.
According to research by the CIPD into equal pay, where employers have
already taken action to close the gender pay gap, it is usually because of
union and employee pressure. In the survey, 61 per cent of respondents said
pressure from unions is the driver for action being taken, second to employee
pressure at 35 per cent. Less than a quarter of the organisations questioned
use the EOC equal pay code.