Armed Forces could be exempt from conducting equal pay audits

The Armed Forces would be exempt from proving it offered equal pay to its male and female employees, if the latest amendments to the Equality Bill succeeded.

In a long list of further tabled amendments to the Bill, Vera Baird, the solicitor general and person responsible for taking it through parliament, has requested that the Armed Forces and security and intelligence agencies be excluded from conducting equal pay audits.

Three Conservative MPs also listed a similar amendment.

The move would mean that thousands of UK military personnel would be exempt from rights to ensure their employer published information on the amount they paid women and men, currently listed as clause 73 in the Bill.

In Baird’s explanatory statement next to her amendment, she said: “This amendment would exclude the security and intelligence agencies and Government Communications Headquarters’s military helpers from the scope of clause 73. As a result, that clause would not apply to any [security/intelligence] government department or any part of the Armed Forces.”

The Equality Bill was introduced to help eradicate the equal pay gap, which currently stands at 17.1% for full-time roles.

A significant clause in the Bill will force employers with 250 employees or more to conduct equal pay audits by 2013 if they do not do so voluntarily. This could be reduced to employers with 100 staff or more, if another amendment tabled by Liberal Democrat equality spokeswoman Lynne Featherstone succeeded.

Featherstone also recently called for a clause to ensure that written job applications were nameless, so as to prevent discrimination taking place at the selection stage.

The Equality Bill is still in committee stage.

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