Conservative shadow minister for women, Theresa May, has unveiled new proposals on how to tackle the pay gap between men and women.
Set out in the document Fair Play on Women’s Pay: A six point plan to overcome the gender pay gap, the proposals include: pay audits for firms that are found guilty of discriminating in terms of women’s pay †and †a new ‘reasonableness’ test for any material factors that are used as justifications for paying a woman less. Other proposals include an extension to the right to request flexible working to all parents of children aged 18 or younger, new measures to help women into work and climb the career ladder, and support for young women to make broader and more ambitious career choices.
May said: “It is 37 years since the Equal Pay Act received Royal Assent but this pay gap remains stubborn and significant. In Britain, women earn on average 17.2% less than men.”
Responding to the proposals, Jenny Watson, chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission said: “We welcome the Conservative Party’s proposals on equal pay – they would make a real difference to women’s lives. But to really close the pay gap we need to fundamentally overhaul the outdated Equal Pay Act. With the tribunal system struggling to cope with a 155% rise in equal pay claims since last year, there is now a renewed sense of urgency and an emerging political consensus that this issue must finally be cracked. Now government must rise to the challenge.”