Attempt to close gender pay gap

Firms that check and publish any difference in pay between male and female staff will receive limited immunity from investigation, the equalities commission announced today.

The "unprecedented" step aimed to encourage businesses to take voluntary measures to tackle the country's gender pay gap, said the Equality and Human Rights Commission, although the CBI said it did not support the move.

The commission said women were still paid 20 per cent less per hour than men, with a wider gap of 25 per cent in private firms, 40 years after the Equal Pay Act came into force.

A study by the commission showed that half of workers believed tackling pay discrimination was a top priority, but fewer than one in 10 firms widely published pay gap information.

Firms with more than 250 employees which publish details were unlikely to receive formal requests for further information over the next two years, it was announced.

Commission chairman Trevor Phillips said: "I'm pleased that the Commission has been able to play such a unique role in coming up with some innovative and concrete solutions to begin tackling the issue of the gender pay gap.

"Our research shows that the majority of businesses in the UK realise that they need to address the significant differences between men and women's pay that still exist 40 years after the Equal Pay Act.

"Transparency is really the first step to addressing the gender pay gap. If an employer doesn't look at their own gender pay gap, how do they address it? By understanding that they have a gender pay gap problem they can start to take steps to address it, and, of course, it must make good business sense to be rewarding talented staff on merit and results rather than gender.

"Those that take up these measures will receive some immunity from our investigative powers. I hope this incentive combined with the goodwill and commitment shown by our partners so far means that we can deliver high levels of participation on a purely voluntary basis, ensuring that gender pay transparency will become normal business practice."

Katja Hall, the CBI's director of employment policy, said the business group could not support the proposals, adding: "There is no disagreement about the need to address the lack of women in higher-paid jobs, but there is a disagreement about what will actually work, and what will backfire.

"The publication of average salary figures for men and women, which could be made compulsory under the terms of the Equalities Bill, could be misleading. People could think 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.

"We need policies that will encourage talented women to aim for and apply for better-paid roles. Making companies that are struggling to attract suitable female applicants for senior roles publish average gender-pay figures could make it even more difficult."

The CBI put forward an alternative which it said would have enabled companies to report on progress towards gender equality in a meaningful way, saying: "Unfortunately the EHRC has missed a critical opportunity to propose a workable, effective policy, and the CBI has had to reject its report. "

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Compensation and Benefits Manager - Brentwood - Circa £60,000

£60000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Compensation and Benefits Manager - Compensat...

Data Analyst/Planning and Performance – Surrey – Up to £35k

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum plus excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Markit EDM (CADIS) Developer

£50000 - £90000 per annum + benefits: Ampersand Consulting LLP: Markit EDM (CA...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?