Employers will be forced to allow staff to discuss what they are paid under plans for “empowering the resentful” legions of underpaid women being set out by the government on Thursday.
An equality bill in the autumn will outlaw the “gagging clauses” being used by one in four employers to prevent staff from discussing their remuneration, Harriet Harman, the minister for women and equality, will on Thursday tell MPs.
But the bill will not require all employers to conduct audits showing the gender pay gap in the company. Ms Harman lost a battle to make such audits mandatory for the private sector – an outcome that will relieve business but incense unions.
The minister said on Wednesday that the equality legislation, being introduced in December’s Queen’s Speech, would nonetheless “set the cat among the pigeons” by ensuring greater openness.
The “British reserve about discussing pay” has contributed to a “lurking entrenchment of discrimination,” Ms Harman said. More than three decades after the Equal Pay Act of 1970, men in full-time jobs are still paid on average 17 per cent more than women in equivalent full-time posts.
Gap between full-time
men and women 17%
Gap between full-time
men and part-time
Gap within some government departments Treasury 26%
Work and pensions 7%
Equalities Office –4%
The percentage gap measures the extent to which the equivalent hourly rates of pay are higher for men than women. The minus sign for the equalities office shows that women are paid more than their male counterparts
“Let’s get [pay] out in the open … of course gagging clauses have got to go,” Ms Harman said. “What is absolutely key to making change is empowering the resentful. Women suspect that men in their own workplace are paid more than them … but it’s quite difficult for them to challenge it when they don’t actually know what the pattern of pay is … ”
The government will encourage the equality watchdog to take action against the City over unequal pay, the minister said. “We’ll have the Equality and Human Rights Commission going after particular sectors which are particularly problematic, like the financial services sector, where it’s a 45 per cent pay gap, or after the construction industry, which is a chronic under-employer of black and Asian people.”
Ministers also intend to use the government’s hefty procurement power to “drive transparency into the 30 per cent of the private sector” that supply goods and services to the state.
Private companies contracting with the state, as well as public sector employers, will be required to produce audits showing the gender pay gap, as well as the proportions of their staff that come from ethnic minorities or are disabled.
* The government will on Thursday again vow to tackle age discrimination. But the Financial Times understands the thorny issue of insurers’ treatment of older customers is likely to be the subject of further talks between the industry and ministers. In principle, the government wants age-related premium increases or policy exclusions to be used only when actuarially justified.
OK, First. Never have understood this one, Brits. A Queen is revered, but women in the workplace are just tolerated? Paid less?
No doubt at least one of your spawn, has the same discrimination in place and I suspect that all of England’s spawn do.
The U.S. hell yes. Same work, less pay. Why?
The Canadians will have to bring me up to speed on their situation. If so, why?
Australia. Under the skirt (you know what I mean) of the Queen. Same work, less pay? If so, why?
I hate to make a comparison such as…BUT when men can shit watermelons, which I believe MAY come close to women giving birth, I have trouble understanding why there is inequality in wages earned for the same damn job or profession.
* I’ll have to do some looking as to who/whom stated this…The term used was ageist. Guess what, whomever was correct.
Discrimination based on age is fine, as long as the OLD MEN that are Presidents of companies (which is typically the case) OR the Boards of Directors, are discriminated against like older MALE workers. Sure let it rip.
By the way, I do understand that the older one becomes the more that could go wrong with the body and mind. Case in point…A 38 year old male drops dead. Poor old shit, 38 years of age. (Ummm, sarcasm, people. Just in case you didn’t recognize it).
Would someone with more brain power then I have, explain this to me? Use small words, please.
June 26, 2008, 6:15 am at 6:15 am
At the moment, workers are prohibited under their contracts from discussing how much they’re paid or what benefits they get, and this Bill is intended to override that part of the contract so proper studies can be conducted into the pay differences between men and women in the workplace.
According to current statistics, which are half-assed because 25% of the workplace are legally unable to discuss their pay, men are getting paid 17% more than women in the same position, and 36% more than women in the same position who only work part-time.
So in the interests of fairness and equality, the law will be changed to make it enforceable that organisations will provide statistics as to the gender gap in pay and benefits. Then women are in a better position to negotiate their pay and benefits because they will have the advantage of knowing what the average rate is for the position they’re in/applying for.
Same work, less pay is a throwback to the fact that women are much more likely to take time off for parenting, and it’s only in the past 40 years or so that women have really put effort into seeking the same levels of education and stakes on the corporate ladder that men have traditionally held. The corporate world is still straining to catch up, although many employers are now looking for ways to encourage women to apply to work for them and improve their retention levels of both genders.
June 26, 2008, 6:43 am at 6:43 am
I’ll further add that the gender pay gap is likely to be lower than the statistics quoted, simply because they cannot get the figures for 25% of the workforce, nor can they reliably measure the pay of illegal immigrants.
June 26, 2008, 8:37 am at 8:37 am
A big problem with these bare stats is that a lot of the time they don’t consider facts like women taking more time off for family commitments than men in general, women being less inclined to working more overtime and more prepared to sacrifice salary for other considerations.
The pay scales may be the same, but there is still a pay gap.
What’s wrong with this picture?
June 26, 2008, 1:08 pm at 1:08 pm
At the university where I worked for so many years, you were allowed to look up others’ pay rates in your job classification. That’s because the rankings were applied uniformly, according to a system of points. The more points you had (seniority, education, work experience, etc.) the higher your pay in your classification, and gender had nothing to do with it. Of course there were caps, and the only way to get above the cap was to get a promotion or have your job reclassified, which you could do if you took on additional duties (which happened a lot, considering there were always freezes, or on one occasion, a layoff).