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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 608: debated on Thursday 14 April 2016

11. What steps her Department plans to take to encourage businesses with fewer than 250 employees to close the gender pay gap. (904452)

We are absolutely committed to eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation, which is why we are requiring larger employers to publish their gender pay gap, as well as their bonus gap. We will support all businesses to do that, regardless of their size, with a £500,000 package, which includes UK-wide conference events, online software and, of course, targeted support to some of the male-dominated sectors. We also have the Think, Act, Report initiative, which is available to businesses of any size.

Last July, the Prime Minister promised that companies with more than 250 employees would have to disclose their gender pay gap. This has already been pushed back by two months. A survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development has found that only one in four firms has done any analysis of this. Does the Minister think that progress in this area is good enough, and what will be done about it?

Of course, this is more progress than we had under any previous Government, but this Government are not complacent. The gender pay gap is the lowest on record and has virtually been eliminated for women under the age of 40 working full time. However, we have brought forward the quite demanding regulation that larger employers will now have to publish both their gender pay gap and their bonus pay gap, and also why we have released a big package of support to enable to us to support them through that process.

Since the Government introduced tribunal fees, the number of equal pay claims has fallen dramatically. The Government talk the talk on equal pay, but why are they making it more difficult for women to challenge unfair pay claims?

We are reviewing this at the moment, but the hon. Gentleman must be aware that many more cases are going through ACAS—over 80,000 more cases went through ACAS last year. Surely he agrees it is actually much better to sort something out through mediation—in a friendly and consolidated way—so that people can go back to their workplace without stigma or any form of hostility.