Proposed changes to equal pay law will make it more difficult for women to
claim they are being paid less than a man doing the same job of the same worth,
the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) claims.
In its response to the Government’s consultation document, Equality and
Diversity: The Way Ahead, the EOC warns that the onus of proving a job’s worth
could lie with female employees.
Under the new proposal, if a job evaluation had already been carried out and
rated the jobs differently, it would be the responsibility of a woman who
claims she is being paid unfairly to prove that the job evaluation scheme was
Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, said most people do not have the knowledge
needed to point out the shortcomings of a job evaluation scheme.
"This proposal would be big step backwards. Analysing a job evaluation
scheme is a very specialist task," she said.
"Individual women cannot be expected to carry out that analysis and
then persuade a tribunal that the scheme is flawed. In practice, this would be
a serious barrier to many women wanting to bring an equal pay claim.
"The question of the relative value of different jobs is a difficult
one," Mellor continued.
"However, because women and men are still concentrated in very
different kinds of work, it is often the only way the true value of the jobs
many women do can actually be assessed."
"The EOC urged the Government not to put new barriers in the way of
women who believe they are being paid unfairly. Otherwise, we will never close
the 19 per cent gap between women and men’s hourly pay," said Mellor.
Consultation on Equality and Diversity: The Way Ahead closed last Friday.
By Quentin Reade