Companies would be “named and shamed” under a Labour Government to put pressure on them to close the pay gap between men and women.
In an interview with The Independent, Gloria De Piero, the shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, said that Labour would legislate to force firms with more than 250 workers to publish the average pay of men and women at each pay grade.
She will promise that the pledge will be included in Labour’s general election manifesto when she speaks at its women’s conference in Manchester tomorrow, on the eve of the party’s annual conference.
Ms De Piero cited new figures suggesting that the pay gap means that women at the mid-point of the income scale receive £213,000 less than men over their career. Labour’s analysis, based on official earnings statistics, shows that the “lifetime gender pay gap” ranges from £97,038 for carers; £115,512 in sales and customer services; £165,988 in teaching to £219,135 in law, finance and journalism.
In the interview, Ms De Piero ruled out legislation to impose equal pay automatically, saying that such a change “could not be introduced overnight”, but that she hoped that Labour’s proposal would have the same effect over time.
She said: “Under a Labour Government for the first time companies with more than 250 staff will need to be open and transparent so that women can see if they are getting a fair crack at the best paid jobs or whether they are doing the same or similar jobs to their male colleague for less pay.”
The Coalition inherited such a proposal under the Equality Act passed by Labour in 2010 but did not implement it. The Liberal Democrats will include the measure in their manifesto for next May’s election.
During Labour’s 13 years in power to 2010, the gender pay gap fell by a third, but Labour says it has gone into reverse under the Coalition. Last year the overall gap rose to 19.7 per cent, and from 9.5 to 10 per cent for women working full-time.
Ms De Piero added: “Equal pay isn’t just an issue for women. It’s an issue for families, for fathers and husbands too. We’re all poorer because women don’t have equal pay. It’s a scandal that under the Tories and Lib Dems the pay gap is back on the rise again.”
She admitted that transparency alone would not deliver equal pay but said other Labour policies would help. The party has pledged a higher national minimum wage, and 59 per cent of those receiving it currently are women. Labour has promised working parents 25 hours of free childcare instead of the current 15 hours. Ms De Piero hinted that she would like party to go further in its manifesto, saying: “Those conversations are always taking place.” She added: “Labour is the party of work. It is heart-breaking and frustrating when women say they cannot afford to go to work because of childcare costs.”
The former GMTV political editor, seen as one of the Shadow Cabinet’s rising stars, takes comfort from her analysis of polling by the Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft. Labour is ahead amongst women in 42 of 46 key marginal seats, and in 32 of them has a lead of more than 10 points.
“Women can deliver a Labour Government,” she said.
Her mission now is to persuade these women to vote next May. “That is why this Labour conference is so important. We have got to paint a picture of what Britain would be like under Labour.”
So the conference slogan is “Labour’s Plan for Britain’s Future.”Reuse content