Equality Bill lacks 'key reforms to close gender pay gap'
11 May 2009
The Equality Bill is being debated in the UK Parliament today. The NUJ has expressed concern that it will not do enough to stop pay discrimination in the private sector.
When the union does workplace surveys, women journalists almost always come out as earning far less than their male colleagues. However, the government has refused to make employers publish pay audits and act on them.
Jeremy Dear, NUJ General Secretary, said:
"Unfortunately, the Equality Bill does not contain the key reforms needed to close the gender pay gap in the private sector.
"The proposal that only companies with more than 250 staff should be required to publish pay rates ignores the problems faced by thousands of women in smaller organisations.
"There will be no requirement, even for a company of over 250 staff, to explain why the gap exists or to show how they will take action to reduce illegal pay discrimination.
"The Government is still delaying bringing legislation forward to give statutory rights to workplace equality reps. Without statutory rights to time off for training and negotiations, it remains extremely difficult for trade union equality reps to be taken seriously by employers."
Lena Calvert, NUJ Equality Officer, said:
"The current requirement for a courageous individual to take a case forward will still exist.
"There is no guarantee that any of the private sector changes will actually happen as the measures in the bill merely enable future regulations to make such a requirement.
"There is also a provision that the Equality and Human Rights Commission will conduct enquiries into particular sectors, but currently this body is suffering from a cisis of leadership with several high ranking executives leaving.
"Morale is very low at the Commission, and the trade union movement regards its performance to date as very much below the standards achieved by the previous single bodies such as the Disability Rights Commission and the Equal Opportunities Commission.
"The proposed kitemark scheme for employers who have supposedly good track records on equal pay is also very vague – and the question has to be asked as to how this will ensure real transparency."
The NUJ won what is believed to be the first ever equal pay deal in Britain and Ireland in 1918. Last year, a fair pay campaign was launched to mark the 90th anniversary of the agreement.