Will mandatory pay audits ensure sexual equality?On 1 Jun 2001 in Personnel Today Previous Article Next Article Comments are closed. A quarter of a century has passed since laws were introduced to ensure menand women are paid equally for doing the same work. Yet, the EqualOpportunities Commission reports that nearly 20 per cent of women are stillearning less than men. Is it time to make pay audits mandatory, as recommendedby the Equal Pay Taskforce, or will the Government’s preferred voluntaryapproach bring an end to pay inequality? Compiled by Sarah-Jane NorthJuris Grinbergs Group HR director at Littlewoods, member of Equal Pay Taskforce The voluntary app-roach has so far seen little take up of pay audits and nogeneral move towards looking at ways of closing the gap. It was our (thetaskforce’s) reluctant view that perhaps mandatory pay audits are nownecessary, with the full recognition that such a recommendation would elicit afairly strong reaction. That is why we went for the two-stage model ofintroducing mandatory audits, so as to avoid the heavily administrative,cumbersome route. One of the issues that bedevilled the Taskforce was getting hold of robustmarket data. But, certainly one suspects that there are sectors where the paygap is larger than others, in particular those with high levels of part-timeand seasonal workers and therefore by definition, high numbers of femaleemployees. Such characteristics suggest that is where a pay gap would be found.I strongly support employers being proactive on this issue. As there is currently no mandatory way of auditing, employers have thechoice of how they do it. In the Shroders case (in which a female brokersuccessfully claimed discrimination after receiving a smaller bonus than malecolleagues), I suspect some sort of high-level assessment of bonus payments inrelation to the gender split would have suggested a problem. Pay auditing doesn’t have to be massively bureaucratic and many employersare already doing it as a matter of course. Susan AndersonDirector of human resources policy, The Confederation of British IndustryThe Government’s proposals are abouttackling the different causes of the gender pay gap – not just unfairdiscrimination. The CBI believes pay inequality results from the choices womenmake, careers they choose and the time they spend out of the labour marketbecause of childcare responsibilities. It is more sensible to tackle theseissues than to impose ineffective legislation on all employers to curb thediscriminatory practices of a few.We need to give more choices to women trying to balance workwith family responsibilities. That means we want better childcare facilitiesand improved career advice.Business will play its part in helping to develop a voluntarypay review system. We will seek to make sure it is simple and flexible and candeal with increasingly complex pay systems. We will continue to promotefamily-friendly working wherever possible. Nick PageAdviser on pay, Chartered Institute of Personnel and DevelopmentWe support the Government’s voluntaryapproach. We are not convinced that compulsory auditing would have an impact onthe equal pay problem. The problem is very complex. On one level this problemis to do with the work that we as a society value, our education system and theway in which we deal with people’s aspirations. These issues are at the heartof the problem and you cannot legislate for them.Some problems are structural in that pay systems may reward more”male-orientated” activities than female activities. Employers cantackle such attitudes themselves. The long-term solution is to change the typesof work that we value. But such value judgements are deeply embedded in thenational psyche. We believe it is better to raise awareness of the equal payissue and seek a voluntary approach to it. JennyWatson Deputy chair, Equal Opportunities Commission Pay discrimination will continue toaffect women’s pay packets until all employers routinely review their paysystems.The Equal Pay Task Force’s report on pay discrimination wasbased on evidence gathered from employers and pay specialists and on thefindings of a programme of research commissioned by the EOC. A key finding wasthat while the vast majority of employers were confident, they paid fairly,very few had ever actually done a review to check they were right.The report focuses on what can be done to raise awareness amongemployers. It also recommends a change in the law that would require employersto carry out simple checks on their pay systems. The EOC fully endorses theTask Force’s proposals. Until legal change requires all employers to confrontthis issue then many women will still be denied a fair deal at work.ClaraFreemanChairman, Opportunity Now (a business in the community campaign forequality)Our members have always been at thevanguard of fairness for women in the workforce, which is a much broader issuethan just pay. Women make up half the potential workforce and at the moment,with low unemployment and the war for talent, it is in the interests ofemployers to attract people and that means treating men and women fairly.We back the voluntary approach (to improving equality) andwould gladly work with the Government and other bodies to understand the issuesthat feed into the lack of fair pay, which involves all sorts of things such asrecruitment rates, access to training and promotion and the way in whichperformance appraisals are conducted. There is legislation in place already, but the good thing aboutthe taskforce report is that it has put the issue at the top of the agenda forbusiness leaders. Related posts:No related photos.