The government has responded to the Women and Equalities Committee’s second report into the Gender Pay Gap.
The committee made a total of 17 evidence based recommendations on 22 March 2016 to tackle the gender pay gap as quickly as possible. The government responded to this report by rejecting the majority of the proposals of the committee.
A sample of the proposals that were rejected are:
- Developing a more effective parental leave policy that includes 3 months of leave for secondary parents once the primary parent has returned to work.
- Setting up a “Pathways into Work” scheme for women over 40 as this group have been identified as heavily affected by the pay gap.
- The assumption that all jobs should be made to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate an immediate and continuing business case against doing so.
- Reducing the threshold for reporting gender pay gaps to businesses with 150+ employees rather than 250+.
The above proposals all looked to tackle factors that the report identified as contributing towards the wage gap; such as maternity leave, child care arrangements and the disproportionate amount of low paid part time work.
The report found that retail, cleaning and other traditionally female dominated sectors are some of the worst paid in the UK. The Committee put this down to “devaluation of work deemed a ‘female’ occupation”. It goes on to state that within the retail sector in particular around 70% of positions are exclusively part-time and offer little chance of career development or progression. This coupled with the low amount of high-skilled part time work available and the large amount (as much as 70%) of women returning to work after maternity leave wanting flexible work gives many woman no choice but to take low-skilled work and earn less.
Clearly there is room for improvement here with reports now indicating that Britain isn’t due to close its wage gap for 41 years. This statistic puts Britain in 13th place when compared to other countries and enforces the need for the government to take immediate action in order to avoid a further generation of women facing poorer earning prospects than men.
Since the rejection of these proposals the committee has called on the government to provide further evidence justifying their decision. Whether or not this will lead the government to change its current approach to this issue is yet to be seen.
A link to the government response to the report can be found below: