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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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Sarah Veale: It would be regrettable if the Bill was not an opportunity to introduce mandatory pay audits. We in the TUC have never said that they are a panacea or that they alone will solve the problem, but you will not be able to identify unequal pay until you carry out systemic monitoring to find out where and why the discrimination is taking place, and then hopefully work out workplace solutions for addressing it.

We have had years and years of reviews—equal pay has been reviewed more times than anything else. The Equal Opportunities Commission has done it, and we have had the Kingsmill review and the women and work commission. They have all said that it is essential to have pay auditing if you are going to crack the problem. However, the trouble is that they have all shied away from making it compulsory.

With the greatest respect to Katja, employers are simply not doing it enough. There are some who are doing it, admirably, who have found that it is not the problem that they thought it was going to be and that it has delivered huge benefits. However, there is a hard core in the private sector—the public sector is different—that simply will not do it. Until it is done, we will not be able to crack the problem, which is why the TUC has been adamant about pushing that point. I would add, however, that we do not think that that  alone will solve the problem, and I agree with the proposition that there are a number of other extraneous factors, but you must do that, and again we urge the Government to do so.