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EqualPayPortalBlogSpot is run by equal pay expert Sheila Wild

6 June 2016

A comparative analysis of gender equality laws across the EU

A new report provides an overview of the ways in which EU gender equality law has been implemented in the domestic laws of the 28 Member States of the European Union, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway (the EEA countries) and four candidate countries (the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey).
The analysis is based on the country reports written by the gender equality law experts of the European equality law network. It provides a state-of-the art overview of the implementation of EU gender equality law, and the most recent developments in this area. It discusses the most important topics of EU gender equality law, namely core concepts such as direct and indirect discrimination and (sexual) harassment; equal pay and equal treatment at work; maternity, paternity, parental and other types of care leaves; occupational pension schemes; statutory schemes of social security; self-employed workers; equal treatment in relation to goods and services; violence against women in relation to the Istanbul Convention; and enforcement and compliance issues.
Unfortunately a major inaccuracy in respect of Great Britain calls into question the usefulness of the report, at least in so far as equal pay is concerned. The forthcoming requirement on British employers to report on their gender pay gaps is just that, a reporting requirement; it does not oblige employers to carry out an equal pay audit

You can read the report here.

3 June 2016

Women in Finance Charter

HM Treasury has launched the ‘Women in Finance’ Charter asking financial services firms to commit to key industry actions. The initiative is the Treasury’s response to the review led by Jayne-Anne Gadhia of Virgin Money into the representation of women in senior managerial roles in the UK’s financial services industry. 

Key features of the proposed Charter include:
  • The Charter is voluntary and applies to all financial services firms as defined by the FCA and all firms that are headquartered overseas but with significant operations in the UK;
  • Participating firms will be expected to set out their approach to each of three overarching recommendations: reporting, executive accountability and remuneration;
  • Financial services firms should set their own internal targets, against which they publicly report progress. The report encourages firms to publish metrics on gender balances at all levels of the organisation (in individual business units as well as by broad job functions);
  • Financial services firms should explicitly tie executive bonuses to achieving the internal targets which firms have set for themselves. It will be up to the company to determine how this should be done. The report notes that remuneration structures and links with variable pay can be an effective tool to change behaviours, but the mechanism for doing so is left to individual firms to work out.
  • Financial services firms will report annually on progress against their targets which would be set annually or up to a three year basis;
  • There are no sanctions for non-participation.
The report also outlines ten positive actions that can be taken to improve inclusion in the workplace, including investing in supportive people managers; providing technology to support flexible working; implementing good flexible working policies, and ensuring pay structures are transparent;

Virgin Money has committed to sign the Charter, together with Lloyds Banking Group, Barclays, HSBC, Royal Bank of Scotland, Columbia Threadneedle and Capital Credit Union. The Treasury will publish a list of firms who have signed up to the Charter after three months.

You can read the Gadhia report here.

1 June 2016

DLA seeks improvements to access to justice in discrimination matters

The Discrimination Law Association (the DLA) , the registered charity and membership organisation active in the field of anti-discrimination law (EqualPayPortal is a member), has published a comprehensive response to the Bach Commission's call for evidence on Access to Justice which is exploring establishing access to justice as a fundamental public entitlement. 

The DLA is concerned with the way in which claimants who experience discrimination at work are treated by the justice system and identifies a number of measures whose introduction would improve access to justice in discrimination matters: 
  1. The removal or significant reduction of Employment Tribunal Fees; 
  2. The reintroduction of public funding for an initial 2 hours minimum expert legal advice on a face to face basis;
  3. The reintroduction and extension of powers of Courts and Tribunals to make binding recommendations for discriminatory organisations to implement improvements and make chances to practices; 
  4. An obligation to ensure provision of legal services which are accessible in practice to all members of the community regardless of geographical location or protected characteristics. This should involve a reassessment of the mechanisms for delivering publicly funded legal services, and the re-evaluation of the utility of restrictions on delivery of advice and assistance resulting from contracting; 
  5. The reconsideration and implementation of the Public Sector Duty Regarding Socio Economic Inequalities as contained in section 1 of the Equality Act 2010; with adequate resourcing to be considered; 
  6. The reintroduction of a pre litigation procedure for discovery of information for discrimination claims as set out but not implemented in section 138 of the Equality Act 2010. 
As equal pay claimants will have been particularly hard-hit by the double whammy of the introduction of Employment Tribunal Fees and the removal of the equal pay questionnaire, EqualPayPortal has no hesitation in endorsing the DLA's call for the above measures to be introduced. 

You can find the DLA submission here

Cameron’s promise called into question

New research shows the UK has one of the worst records for gender equality at work in Europe, making Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise to end Britain’s gender wage gap in a generation look increasingly unlikely.

A study produced by Glassdoor Economic Research looked at data from 18 European countries, and also included the US as a benchmark. The study found that the UK ranks 11th out of 18 countries. Sweden, Norway and Finland had the highest gender equality in the workplace, while Italy, Greece and Ireland had the lowest scores.

The gap between female and male employment rates was taken into account, as were female representation on boards and top management and the “cost of motherhood” in terms of lower wages for mothers.

The study finds there are fewer women than men in the workplace in the UK, but the gap narrows considerably for those with a university education. In contrast, Sweden, Norway and Finland have an almost equal balance of men and women in the labour market and can offer Britain a positive example, according to Glassdoor chief economist Andrew Chamberlain.
In Britain, the gender pay gap rose by 14 percent when women have children, the study says. For women without children, the gender pay gap stands at seven percent, but jumps to 21 percent for those with at least one child. That means British mothers are significantly worse off than those in Spain and Italy, but better off than those in Ireland in Germany.
When it comes to female representation on boards, the UK scored the third highest at 35 percent, coming behind only Sweden and Norway. About 26 percent of UK board members at listed companies are women, compared with 36 percent in Norway at the top, and Estonia at the bottom with 8 percent.

For the full report and some interesting graphics, click here.