We’ve said it’s a hot topic before, and this week’s front-page coverage of
an equal pay claim just confirms it. If the claim by Unison on behalf of
teaching assistants is successful, it will lead to a flood of similar disputes,
potentially costing county councils millions.
Whatever your business, a pay review should be on your priority list of
things to do this year. The Government’s taskforce insists pay audits must be
conducted and acted upon to meet new requirements on company reporting. All
central government departments are supposed to be leading by example and are
committed to equal pay reviews by this Spring. France, Canada, Sweden and even
parts of the US have already made pay audits mandatory and there’s the threat
of that here if employers fail to put adequate systems in place.
Personnel Today has broken ranks with employer groups like the CBI to back
the mandatory route. We have been frustrated by examples of institutional
sexism and evidence that past warnings about serious claims have been ignored.
The workplace is still riddled with inequality and HR is in a unique
position to do something about it. Women working full-time still earn 19 per
cent less an hour than men, while women working nights, often to fit in around
childcare, do not receive the same perks as men.
Even in HR itself, we have the situation of female HR chiefs’ pay lagging
behind their male counterparts by 25 per cent. It’s a miracle that young women
are still flocking to HR with that disparity looming over them.
Find out if your organisation has a pay problem by kick-starting a review
now. Consult with the unions and staff representatives and regularly review to
ensure continuing fairness. The Equal Opportunities Commission has a
seven-point action plan to implement pay reviews, so seek its help today.
New ways for the public sector
Mary Mallett follows a long line of impressive local government HR directors
this week by taking over the presidency of Socpo (the Society of Chief
Her enthusiasm for the job and for the challenges facing HR in the public sector
is palpable and timely.
The public sector may have initiative overload, but there are no signs of
weariness or a desire to water down the reforms so badly needed to improve
As the special supplement with this issue shows, there is tons of dynamism
in public sector HR and a willingness to think radically. Pushing the
boundaries on old organisational ways requires resilience and determination.
The profession should be proud of the shifts it is making already.