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Equality Bill

Part of the debate – in a Public Bill Committee at 11:31 am on 9th June 2009.

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Dianah Worman: As Sarah was saying, there are a lot of issues that can cause problems. Poor management practice can lead to issues of unfair or unequal pay, which is why the auditing process is very important. Digging deep to find out the causes of the situation would mean that an employer could manage their pay bill far more effectively.

This is a complicated matter, and there are many issues that are not under the direct control of the employer. There are issues about women preferring to make decisions about what jobs to go for, and the trade-off decisions that they might make in terms of access to part-time work versus pay levels—that is very important—or the distance they need to travel to work. Another issue might be the confidence levels that women have regarding bargaining for pay in the first place. Those complicated issues must be dealt with on all fronts, not just left as the responsibility of the employer. Employers need to get their act together, and it is common sense for them to do so, but we need to work in partnership on this issue and not simply depend on the usual defence of market rates. Market rates can have an inbuilt bias, and we must be  conscious of those dimensions and ensure that we work together more coherently to deal with the gender pay gap.