The government is pressing on legislation that would require employers to disclose whether they pay women as much as men. Home Secretary Theresa May said the Equality Act, passed in April, would be implemented next October. Also the Equalities Minister, May said it would make it easier for firms to comply with anti-discrimination rules. Business group the CBI said the act should not become law without changes. It state the government would then have to drop provisions requiring firms to conduct a “gender pay audit” where there was “evidence of unfairness”.
Although it has not yet become law, it would it imposes a new duty on public bodies – like education authorities and health trusts – to consider reducing socio-economic inequalities, for example with policies preventing poorer children from missing out on places at the best schools. Employers would then be stopped from using pay secrecy clauses to prevent employees discussing their own pay, bans age discrimination by employers and includes provisions aimed at extending the rights of disabled people. But Mrs. May believes that many of the act’s clauses would be too bureaucratic and expensive.
Meanwhile Trevor Phillips the chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, welcomed the speed with which the government had moved to implement the legislation. He believes the Equality Act will make Britain a much fairer country for all.
However, CBI director of human resources policy Katja Hall said the company audit measure was likely to be misleading.
“Forcing companies to publish average salary figures for men and women could mislead people into thinking that women are paid less than men in the same role, which is rightly illegal, when differences will actually reflect the proportions of men and women in higher-paid jobs,” she said.
Some shipping companies have complained that the laws will force them to quit the UK because they would have to pay UK rates to foreign-based seafarers who do not have the burden of British living costs.