A report published last week by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) called on the Government to take action on workplace inequality and to introduce regulations under Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 requiring large private-sector employers to carry out equal pay audits.
A key recommendation in the report is that those businesses with 250 or more employees should undertake and publish data on its pay rates for male and female staff, so as to highlight where pay gaps exist.
In addition, the BIS wants the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to publish the details of those businesses that are non-compliant, as well as those who demonstrate equal pay best practice, in order to show that equal pay is good for business.
The report also urges the Government to do more to tackle female under-representation in certain sectors of the economy and wants it to set targets for encouraging women into apprenticeship sectors where they are currently under-represented, such as science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
In addition, the report says, employees should be entitled to ask for flexible working from the outset, and not only after they have been in a job for six months.
Commenting on the report, Adrian Bailey MP, Chair of the BIS cross-party Committee that wrote it said: “Four decades since the Equal Pay Act, we still do not have full workplace equality. We cannot wait another 40 years.”
He added that although the Government has demonstrated a welcome commitment to improving the representation of women on boards, it must now show the same commitment to addressing their under-representation in certain sectors of the economy, which should include a willingness to set targets and, if necessary, to regulate.
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