Speaking at the charity Working Families’ equalities conference last week, May said the Labour government has “inadequate” tools to fight the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 17% for full-time workers.
She said to overcome the pay gap, a “proper analysis of its causes” should be carried out, and employers deliberately at fault should face consequences.
“Compulsory pay audits should be introduced for employers who are found to discriminate between men and women on pay. If an employee takes their employer to a tribunal because of pay discrimination, and the employer is found guilty, they are not required to make changes for their employees rather, each woman discriminated against has to take an individual case to the tribunal.
“If the employer is found guilty there should be consequences and they should have to take a compulsory pay audit under agreed guidelines,” she said.
May also told Personnel Today she did not know why the government had “shied away” from introducing mandatory pay audits, but welcomed equalities minister Harriet Harman to take on board the Conservatives’ policies.
“I hope that we may now be going to gear Labour up to be doing something in this area we’ve had some recent experience where if we suggest a policy, the government tends to follow our lead, so I’m rather hoping that equal pay proves to be the case as well.”
The government’s proposed Single Equality Bill to make discrimination law easier to interpret does not make the introduction of employer pay audits mandatory for the private sector.
Earlier this year, the former Equal Opportunities Commission, now part of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, called for protection for employers who try to sort out internal pay reviews.