Equality Act must be fully implemented to tackle equal pay, say campaigners

The Government has been urged to fully implement the Equality Act 2010 and force big businesses to measure and publish pay gaps, in a report by equality groups and unions.

The report, from the Fawcett Society, the TUC, Unison and the Equality and Human Rights Commission, marks today (2 November) as “Equal Pay Day”. This draws attention to women “working for free” after this date, due to the 16.4% gap between men’s and women’s pay.

Suggestions to combat the pay gap made in the report include extending the right to request flexible working to all workers and introducing job-shares at senior levels.

It also states that a new equal pay framework should be introduced to make clear the obligations on public and private sector employers in tackling the pay gap.

David Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: “Public sector cuts are set to deal the biggest blow to women, who make more use of, and find more jobs in, the public sector. The Government should be taking steps to give women their full protection, starting with overhauling the law.”

He added that the time it takes for women to challenge unequal pay is a major hurdle and that unions should be allowed to take group action to help more women challenge their pay.

Jane Butcher, assistant director of the UKRC, a government body that promotes equality in science, engineering and technology (SET), commented that in SET sectors the pay gap is lower than average and higher-level professionals enjoy broadly similar pay. However, she said that there is still more to be done.

“It remains the case that women are significant in their absence from these sectors, they form only 12.3% of the skilled workforce in SET and just 1% of the SET skilled trade workforce,” she added.

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