Thursday, 19 November 2009

Equal pay victory for women

The Equality and Human Rights Commission have just sent us their month email newsletter with this press release report.

It is entitled "Women in some jobs who have time off to raise children get pay equality boost after landmark ruling"

Commission welcomes equal pay victory for women at work

Women in some jobs who have time off to raise children received a significant boost today after a landmark case in the Court of Appeal in which the Equality and Human Rights Commission intervened.

Mrs Christine Wilson, an Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive, brought the case against her employer, claiming that its pay agreement with employees linking pay to length of service for up to ten years was unfair.

The Health and Safety Executive’s agreement with its employees meant that three male colleagues on the same level as Mrs Wilson were paid more than her for doing equivalent work.

The Commission argued that linking pay to length of service often disadvantages women who take time out of the workforce to raise children and so do not have the same continuous length of service as men.

The Court agreed with the Commission’s submissions. It found that although employers to not generally have to justify schemes linking length of service to pay, they will have to if there is evidence that this is having a disproportionate impact on women.

Susie Uppal, Director of Legal Enforcement at the Commission, said: 'Women should not be disadvantaged in the workforce because of they take time out for maternity leave or to meet caring responsibilities. Linking pay to length of service often does them a disservice. Direct discrimination, long hours, and a lack of flexible working options are some of the biggest barriers to achieving gender equality in the workplace.'

Research shows that the gender pay gap is narrower in the public sector than in the private sector, (a full-time gap of 13.8 per cent compared with 21.7 per cent) and that far more public sector employers are undertaking pay audits as one way of addressing the issue (43 per cent compared to 23 per cent).

The Commission believes that developing ways for employers to measure and report on their gender pay gap will be a crucial step towards reducing pay inequity by providing greater transparency. It is holding a consultation on how to develop a consistent way to measure the gender pay difference within organisations.

Gender pay gap reporting is intended to be voluntary, but could be made mandatory using a reserve power in the Equality Bill. A future Secretary of State could chose to use that power if progress on closing the pay gap has not been made by 2013.

Source: The Equality and Human Rights Commission 20th October 2009

Who are The Equality and Human Rights Commission?

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights. The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.


The UK Parliament has recognised the value of the Commission’s expertise, imposing on it the power to intervene in certain legal proceedings by virtue of section 30 of the Equality Act 2006. The Commission takes a strategic approach when deciding to intervene. It will generally intervene in cases where it can use its expertise to clarify or challenge an important element of the law. The cases generally involve serious matters of public policy or general public concern. The outcome of these cases often has a wide impact as they set precedents to be followed by the lower courts.

Take a look at the jml Training website section Promoting Equal Opportunities in Service Provision

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