Single Status and Equality Legislation

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2016 Local Government Service Group Conference
16 February 2016

Despite UK and EU equality legislation, there are still many women in local government paid much less than they should be compared to men. Conference believes government policy both in equality and industrial relations terms is rendering equal pay legislation less effective and undermining the role of collective bargaining in delivering equality.

Conference notes with great concern that:

1)The disproportional effect of the cuts on women means that even in a sector where Single Status is meant to equalise and protect women’s pay, the gender pay gap in basic earnings between men and women has risen by 3% since 2010 and now stands at 80.8% of men’s pay;

2)Many local authorities are not undertaking regular equal pay auditing to maintain single status pay and grading structures, even though this is recommended by the National Joint Council, the Scottish Joint Council and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC);

3)In a cuts climate, councils are reorganising services and trying to do more for less. In many cases, they fail to revise job descriptions or to re-evaluate jobs. Members are therefore at risk of being underpaid for extra and more complex work. Pay structures are becoming less transparent;

4)Equal pay claims have, and will continue to, make a real difference to the lives of many, low-paid women. But the introduction of employment tribunal fees in 2013 saw equal pay claims drop by more than 80 per cent.

All local government employers have a duty to comply with equal pay legislation and women in local government should not be denied an equal wage because of a failure to properly monitor and assess pay. Conference calls on the Service Group Executive to address this unfairness through collective bargaining, campaigning and litigation where necessary by:

a)Continuing to provide and update training and technical advice that equips local and regional negotiators to spot and counter discrimination and inequality and promote equal pay and equality proofed pay structures;

b)Working with the National Executive Council, all of the UK TUCs and equality bodies to campaign for policies to strengthen compliance with equal pay legislation including:

i)Mandatory equal pay audits and equality impact assessments;

ii)A legal requirement for equality information to be shared with employees and trade unions to promote transparency in pay policies;

iii)More powers for the Equality and Human Rights Commission to carry out effective adequate monitoring and enforcement;

iv)Compliance with the law to be a condition of becoming a preferred bidder for public sector contracts and tribunals given the powers to take a failure to comply into consideration when hearing related claims of equal pay or sex discrimination;

v)Equal pay questionnaires to be reinstated and employment tribunal fees repealed