Govt under fire for Equality Act delay

By Peter Wozniak

The government is being accused of allowing the pay gap between men and women to grow by watering down the Equalities Act.

The Fawcett Society, an organisation concerned with highlighting and redressing gender inequality, suggested that the coalition’s review of the Act may render it “toothless”.

Ceri Goddard, the society’s chief executive, argued that removing clauses requiring equal pay audits would be a big step back in improving equality.

“Rowing back on the requirement for big business to publish and take action on any differences in pay between men and women employees – so to conduct gender pay audits – is tantamount to endorsing the shocking gender pay gap,” she claimed.

“It’s utterly nonsensical to suggest we can tackle pay differences between men and women if we can’t see where they are.”

The Act was passed under the previous administration in April, and was opposed by the Conservatives in opposition, who objected to the pay audit element.

The Liberal Democrats did support the Act, though the government has now committed to reviewing it, preventing plans to have it come into force in October.

It is likely that the spending review may be feeding into the decision, with concern over the costs of implementing the Act as it is.

Ms Goddard rejected that line of argument entirely.

“Done right, conducting a pay audit is a simple and inexpensive process that can happen alongside annual accounts”, she said.