The cross-party Women and Equalities Committee says the government is ignoring its gender pay gap recommendations and failing to tackle the issue
The gender pay gap will not be eliminated in a generation if the government goes on ignoring the evidence and recommendations it is given, says a cross-party committee of MPs.
The Women and Equalities Committee has raised concerns that government is not addressing the underlying structural causes of the gender pay gap. The Committee’s report was published in March 2016, along with recommendations which included:
- Addressing the part-time pay penalty and flexible working, particularly for those in lower paid sectors.
- Supporting parents to share childcare equally. The Government’s flagship policy – shared parental leave – is predicted to make little difference to behaviour.
- Supporting women back into the workforce after time out of the labour market and removing barriers to returning to work across a range of occupations.
- Addressing low pay in highly feminised sectors such as catering, cleaning and caring.
‘Deeply disappointing’ that gender pay gap recommendations not taken on board
Government’s response to the report last month recognised the business case for reporting on and reducing the gender pay gap. It also acknowledges structural factors contributing to the pay gap, such as women doing jobs for which they are overqualified, being concentrated in part-time work, and being penalised for taking time out of work to raise children.
The response states that “tackling the gender pay gap is an absolute priority”, but the Women and Equalities Committee says government has rejected most of its evidence-based recommendations for addressing these issues.
“The Government says there is no place for a gender pay gap in modern Britain and has restated its pledge to end the pay gap within a generation,” said Committee Chair Maria Miller. “But without effectively tackling the key issues of flexible working, sharing unpaid caring responsibilities, and supporting women aged over 40 back into the workforce, the gender pay gap will not be eliminated.
“We made practical, evidence-based recommendations to address these issues. They were widely supported by a range of stakeholders including businesses, academics, and unions. It is deeply disappointing that our recommendations have not been taken on board by Government.”
Questions to answer for Greening
Committee members will question the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening MP, on Wednesday 26 April. It is calling for evidence on three specific recommendations which were rejected by the government.
- All jobs should be available to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate an immediate and continuing business case against doing so.
- A more effective policy on shared parental leave.
- A National Pathways into Work scheme for harnessing the skills and experience of women over 40.
A web forum is also being launched where researchers, business-people and members of the public can respond to the government’s reasons for not implementing the recommendations.