TUC prompts firms to address sex pay gap

A TUC report into equal pay reveals employers are increasingly taking action
to close the gender pay gap, which is running at up to 26 per cent.

The report, Close the Gap, looks at the effectiveness of a government-funded
TUC training programme for union represent- atives on how to identify and close
the pay gap at work.

The TUC has trained 400 men and women to become equal pay experts since
September 2001 through a three-day online and classroom-based course. This
represents the first equal pay training made available for union
representatives in the UK.

During the programme, train-ees are taught an equal pay representative’s
duties and the law governing equality, and are shown case studies of previous
union action taken on equal pay.

They are also taught how to set up equal pay reviews and take the issue of
pay discrimination forward in a constructive way.

The study – which attracted responses from 78 union equal pay
representatives – reveals that more than half the employers are now taking
steps to address the issue. Of these, two-thirds are conducting, or have
conducted, a formal pay review and more than half have set up a working party
on equal pay.

More than half the representatives report that equal pay claims, or the
threat of legal action, has encouraged their employers to begin to address the

Kay Carberry, TUC assistant general secretary, said the union
representatives were encouraging employers to identify and address the problem
of inconsistencies in pay rates.

"Equal pay reviews and working parties are not going to destroy the gap
overnight, but they are an important step towards making wages fairer to
women," she said.


Case study BMW
HR and unions team up to eradicate inequality

HR managers at BMW Group’s Oxford
plant have joined union representatives on the TUC training scheme to find out
where the company falls down on equal pay.

Three HR managers joined union representatives from unions
Amicus and the Transport and General Workers Union to learn how to identify and
tackle the issue of unequal pay in the workplace.

Paul Lewis, HR manager at BMW, said the training delivered by
Dunstable College pointed managers in the right direction to find solutions,
increased trust between the employer and the unions and created greater
transparency in the organisation.

He also praised the Equal Pay Review Kit produced by the Equal
Opportunities Commission as being very helpful in providing structure and
guidance to the training.

Lewis said BMW decided it would tailor the three-day course to
one-and-a-half days as it felt its staff were mature enough to "get stuck
into the nitty-gritty rather than the early ‘courting’ part of the

"Our aim is to become one of the world’s most attractive
employers – and equal pay is an important component of that objective," he

As a result of the training, BMW intends to carry out a major
internal communications exercise before embarking on an equal pay review at the
end of the year.

The company has already initiated a review of current
statistics to highlight areas to focus on in the initial stages.

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