MPs criticize governments failure to act on gender pay gap

MPs on the Women and Equalities Committee have attacked the government for failing to implement reforms aimed at eliminating the gender pay gap.

said the government had failed to act on its recommendations on tackling the structural causes of wage inequality.

The government have rejected proposals that would help ease the wage gap between men and women, especially in lower skilled jobs.

 

Committee chair and Conservative MP Maria Miller said:

The Government says there is no place for a gender pay gap in modern Britain and has restated its pledge to end the pay gap within a generation.

“Without effectively tackling the key issues of flexible working, sharing unpaid caring responsibilities, and supporting women aged over 40 back into the workforce, the gender pay gap will not be eliminated.

“We made practical, evidence-based recommendations to address these issues. They were widely supported by a range of stakeholders including businesses, academics, and unions.

“It is deeply disappointing that our recommendations have not been taken on board by Government,” she added.

A government spokesperson said Britain was committed to tackling its gender pay gap, which was the lowest on record, however acknowledged that there is more to do. They said:

“We are committed to tackling the gender pay gap and our policies, which aim to balance the needs of employees and businesses while addressing this gap, are working.”

“We now have the lowest gender pay gap on record, around 60,000 people a year are taking advantage of flexible working arrangements and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave gives parents extra flexibility and we will continue to evaluate this as it beds in. We’re also supporting women over 40 in the workplace through the National Careers Service.

“But we know there’s more to do. That’s why we are requiring employers to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time from April and we are giving working parents of three and four year olds up to 30 hours of free childcare from September.”

The Women and Equalities Committee published its report and 17 recommendations on tackling the pay gap in March last year. The majority of the recommendations were rejected.

The committee received the government’s response in January, but is only now publishing the details of that response.

The committee highlighted three areas where it wants the government to justify rejecting its recommendations. The areas are the right to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate a business case against doing so, a “more effective policy on shared parental leave”, with fathers getting three months well-paid paternal leave. and also recommended a “National Pathways into Work” scheme to help women over the age of 40 back into the labour market.

Responding to the committee’s comments, Frances O’Grady – general secretary of trade union umbrella body the TUC, said:

“The government needs to up its game and tackle the root causes of the gender pay gap – not ignore them.

“This means removing the barriers that stop women getting better-paid jobs, and helping parents to share out caring responsibilities more equally. Ministers need to stop dragging their heels and challenge workplace discrimination full on.”

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  1. Whilst all of the initiatives to diminish the role of overt barriers to equity of opportunity, equality of pay and reduced discrimination, the real and more insidious barrier remains. The implicit bias in the mechanisms and cultures upon which our workforces and communities run are less easily modified. This is a whole of community problem that pervades education, the media and social structures. Sadly, there is no silver bullet but a collective effort from government, educators, parents and the media all have a role to play.

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