Government under fire over equal pay audits

The
Government’s voluntary approach to equal pay audits have been criticised by the
task force set up to cut the 18 per cent gender pay gap.

Employment
minister Tessa Jowell last week confirmed at an Industrial Society seminar that
the Government would encourage employers to adopt a voluntary approach to equal
pay audits and not enact additional legislation.

Juris
Grinbergs, group HR director at Littlewoods and Equal Pay Task Force member,
claimed that legislation was needed to cut the gender pay gap. He said, “We
worry if this would not produce any significant results in the time-scale we
are calling for.”

The
task force, drawn from employers and academics, recommended a two-stage
approach to mandatory reviews. An initial health check on equal pay would
establish whether a full audit was necessary.

Personnel
Today supports the Equal Pay Task Force’s criticisms. Recent independent
res-earch (News, 20 March) showed that HR professionals support our stand on
the need for mandatory equal pay audits. Sixty-eight per cent of HR
professionals believe employers should be forced to perform them.

Dr
Samantha Hardy, Industrial Society policy specialist, blamed British business
culture. She said, “People in industry have to realise they are benefiting from
systems that discriminate against others.”

However,
Jowell’s announcement was welcomed by the CBI and CIPD. Dominic Johnson, head
of employee relations at the CBI said, “The only place where equal pay audits
have been introduced is Ontario in Canada, where there was a miniscule increase
in women’s pay but the cost to employers was massive. Women are paying a high
price for time taken out to look after children and elderly relatives.”

By
Richard Staines

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