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Gender Pay Gap

Volume 649: debated on Thursday 15 November 2018

It’s me again!

It is encouraging that the national gender pay gap is at its narrowest ever, but it will take time and action by employers if we are to close it entirely. I am thrilled that more than 10,000 employers reported their gender pay gaps this year, but that is just the first step. We are now working with employers to help them to understand their gender pay gaps and what plans they could make to close them.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant. Does my hon. Friend agree that not just 10,000 employers but 100% of all eligible employers have reported their data and that that provides a baseline on which future progress can be measured and recorded?

I am extremely grateful to my hon. Friend, who is a committed feminist on this subject. Interestingly, not only have more than 10,000 businesses had to have this conversation about how they treat women in their workplace, but we know it is having a trickle-down effect on employers who do not necessarily meet the threshold. I know from the conversations that I have had with business leaders that they understand: the will is there for them to change. They want to do so, and they want to do so in partnership with us in government.

Given the early signs of the success of mandatory gender pay reporting for large businesses, has the Minister considered extending pay transparency to tackle wider inequalities, as recommended by the Institute for Public Policy Research, such as requiring companies with 50 or more employees to report not just on gender pay, but ethnicity and disability gaps?

A huge amount of work is going on, and as the hon. Lady rightly says, the focus this year has been on gender inequality, but we are extending it to ethnic diversity and so on. Interestingly, we have just announced that we are consulting on whether businesses should publicise their parental leave policies to help women and carers.

11. What steps are the Government taking to mitigate the effects of the rising retirement age for the millions of women who will have accrued less in their pension pot due to the gender pay gap? [Interruption.] (907645)

Forgive me if I have had not heard the hon. Gentleman correctly because of the hubbub in the Chamber; it is wonderful that everybody is so excited about women and equalities today.

The gender pay gap for women between the ages of 40 and 49 has fallen since 2010, but we published the “Fuller Working Lives” strategy last year and continue to work with businesses to ensure that everyone can adapt to the changing face of the workplace.

It is disappointing that the Government rejected the Women and Equalities Committee recommendation of a cross-departmental race equality strategy. Can the Minister at least commit to making the reporting of a race pay gap compulsory, in line with the gender pay gap?

As I have said, a great deal of work is going on, and I had a meeting earlier this year on exactly this point and look forward in due course to working with my colleagues in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy on how we can close these gaps as well.