Will equal pay plans deliver?

The Government unveiled its weapons to cut the gender pay gap last week, but
there are doubts over whether they will reduce the 18 per cent divide.

The proposals include the right for women to know what male colleagues at
the same level are earning and the requirement for firms to include information
on employment and pay diversity in annual reports.

The measures will be voluntary, but the Kingsmill review into equal pay
warns employers that if they ignore the measures then legislation could follow.

Trade and Industry Secretary Patricia Hewitt unveiled the measures in
response to findings from Denise Kingsmill, who the Government appointed to
examine women’s pay and employment. Hewitt also outlined plans to encourage
organisations to conduct equal pay audits.

Nick Page, rewards adviser for the CIPD, urged employers to adopt a
transparent approach to equal pay, or he said the Government could bring in
compulsory legislation on pay audits.

"We support the voluntary approach to equal pay audits because we feel
it will be the most successful at this stage. But if there is no significant
commitment by employers to achieving equal pay in the next two to three years,
the Government could revisit the issue and consider a legislative
approach."

HR professionals doubt whether the measures will meet the Government’s
target of eliminating the gender pay gap by the end of decade.

Francesca Okosi, HR director at Brent Council, said, "They will go some
way to helping reduce the gap, but will not significantly reduce it."

Frances Wright, HR director at psychometric test provider SHL, agrees.
"Diversity reporting in annual reports would help as it puts everything
upfront so what is happening can be seen," she said. "It is not the
answer to reducing equal pay, but it will certainly help bring large organisations
in line as they will not want to risk their reputations."

By Paul Nelson

What HR must do

Equal
pay questionnaires:

HR teams will prepare questionnaires including sections on pay,
position, experience, time spent at company and qualifications, that staff can
use to benchmark their salaries if they believe they are being unfairly paid.

Diversity reporting:

Organisations will be expected to give percentages of women
employed, recruited, retained, and promoted in the annual report.The report
will also include diversity trend analysis.

Equal pay audits:

The aim is to determine the existence and extent of equal pay
problems. It uses the pay system to identify men and women in similar roles and
analyse their pay for discrepancies.

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