New Gender Pay-Gap Legislation in Britain

BBC Online is reporting that UK government has a bill in the works that would, among other things*, seek to close the (currently 23%) gender pay gap once and for all. ‘Under the Equalities Bill…firms employing at least 250 staff would be required to publish average hourly rates for men and women by 2013.’ Minister for Equality Harriet Harman says

“This is about employers coming clean with their employees,” […] “Unless we can see it workplace by workplace it stays swept under the carpet – that unfairness stays hidden and we can’t tackle it, if it’s hidden.”

Unsurprisingly, groups like the Institute of Directors are insistent that this new legislation will hurt small- and medium-sized companies who are already struggling in the current economic crisis. Harman’s reply is apt:

Ms Harman said there was “no excuse for having unfairness when times are difficult”.

“The economies and societies which will prosper in the future are not those that have rigid hierarchies, where women know their place and where you can’t go forward because of the colour of your skin,” she said.


*The bill also contains proposed legislation aimed at addressing discrimination against the elderly, as well systemic disadvantage to working class/low-income people.