The first meeting of the Fair Pay Champions, appointed by the Government to
aid its campaign to close the pay gap for women, has taken place. It is part of
the Government’s drive to raise awareness of employment rights for women and
encourage good practice.
But the case of city share analyst Julie Bower, who was forced to resign as
a result of sex discrimination which included being paid an "insultingly
low" bonus, has led the Equal Opportunities Commission to renew calls for
mandatory pay audits. Jenny Watson, deputy chair of the EOC, said, "Such a
culture makes it all too easy for discrimination to occur, which is why the
Equal Pay Task Force has called for legislation requiring employers to ensure pay
systems are not biased."
But despite this call for mandatory pay audits, the Government is
encouraging employers to undertake pay reviews on a voluntary basis. It has
also set up a Women’s Employment and Pay Review, headed by Denise Kingsmill, a
lawyer who specialises in industrial relations and employment law.
Says employment minister Tessa Jowell, "The Fair Pay Champions will
spearhead the drive to change culture and rule out discrimination in business.
And the women’s employment and pay review will work to find ways to challenge
the culture of low pay."