The Conservative Party is likely to scrap government plans for mandatory gender pay audits included in the Equality Bill, Personnel Today has learned.
The Equality Bill, currently in the committee stage of the House of Commons, includes a clause enabling the government to enforce mandatory gender pay audits on employers from 2013 if organisations do not voluntarily disclose their pay gaps before then.
But Theresa May, shadow minister for women and the shadow secretary of state for work and pensions, told Personnel Today that she would prefer to see mandatory reporting only for those employers found guilty at a tribunal of gender discrimination, a policy that has been called for by the Tories for a number of years.
When asked by the magazine if she would want mandatory pay audits to be introduced in 2013 May said: “No, we think that our way forward is the preferable way forward.”
She added she would monitor the progression of the Equality Bill through parliament before making final decisions.
But explaining her policy on mandatory gender pay audits, May told a fringe event on women in the workplace at the Conservative Party Conference earlier today: “We don’t necessarily think mandatory pay audits are the way forward. We think companies found guilty at tribunals of discriminatory practices should have to do a mandatory pay audit.
“At the moment if you take the company to a tribunal each individual has to take an individual case. For companies found guilty the price to pay should be you should have to do an audit for everyone.”
She added companies currently claim to have valid excuses for their gender pay gap, but these reasons “should be tested”.
May also hit back at accusations made by solicitor general Vera Baird that if the Conservatives were to win the next election they could look to repeal the Equality Bill or amend it.
May told Personnel Today: “We have been broadly supportive of the Equality Bill. There are some aspects within it where we disagree and where we are trying to get change.
“The reason why we have been broadly supportive is we think it is very sensible to bring all equalities legislation into one act because there’s just such a myriad of different legislations, acts of parliament and regulations and we are broadly supportive of that concept.”