The Prime Minister has said more companies should voluntary publish their gender pay gap figures, a move Unite said would “amount to very little” in the fight to achieve wage equality.
Theresa May’s comments come after the Office for National Statistics (ONS) released figures showing the median full-time gender pay gap fell from 9.4 per cent in 2016 to 9.1 per cent this year.
The overall gender pay gap, however, increased from 18.2 per cent to 18.4 per cent during the same period.
May called on smaller companies to publish their pay gap figures to help reduce the disparity after TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady criticised the slow rate of progress, saying “at this rate it’ll take decades for women to get paid the same as men”.
Employers with more than 250 staff are required to disclose their data on gender pay and bonuses by April 2018, following the introduction of new legislation. Now May is asking smaller firms to voluntary publish their own pay gap figures.
May said, “It is encouraging news that the gap has fallen this year for full-time workers. But the gender pay gap isn’t going to close on its own – we all need to be taking sustained action to make sure we address this.
“We need to see a real step change in the number of companies publishing their gender pay data and offering progression and flexibility for all employees. That’s why today I am calling on more businesses, both small and large, to take action to make sure the gender pay gap is eliminated once and for all.”
Unite national officer Siobhan Endean said May’s suggestions lack teeth and are near useless.
She said, “The prime minister’s announcement will amount to very little. To close the gender pay gap we need action not words. All companies should be required to publish their gender pay gaps at the very least – but even this amounts to little more than a ‘name and shame’ exercise if it isn’t backed up with proper enforcement.
“To implement real change, employers should be forced to carry out detailed pay audits and take action on any disparities they find. We know from the equal pay audits Unite and other unions have negotiated with employers that they make a real difference – it’s time they were made mandatory.”