Keeping Pay Equal

Back to all Motions

2018 Local Government Service Group Conference
22 February 2018

Despite longstanding UK and EU equal pay legislation, there are still women working in local government and private contractors providing local government services who are paid much less than they should be compared to men. Conference believes that changes are needed to make UK equal pay legislation more effective and that government austerity policy is undermining the impact of equal pay legislation and the role of collective bargaining in delivering income equality.

Conference applauds UNISON’s landmark victory in reversing the introduction of employment tribunal fees. Equal pay claims have, and will continue to, make a real difference to the lives of many, low-paid women. So will regular equal pay audits and the effective use of job evaluation and pay and grading reviews.

Conference notes with great concern that:

1)Local government cuts continue to have a disproportional effect on women. It remains essential that councils and schools carry out equality impact assessments to ensure that any cuts are not discriminatory;

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) Few local government contractors have carried out job evaluation or have transparent pay and grading structures delivering equal pay;

4) 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.

All local government employers and contractors have a duty to comply with equal pay legislation. Women in local government should not be denied an equal wage because of a failure to properly monitor and assess pay. Conference notes the excellent guide to “Keeping Pay Equal” produced by UNISON and the other NJC unions and calls on the service group executive to continue to address the gender pay gap by:

a)Providing training and technical advice that equips local and regional negotiators to spot and counter pay discrimination and inequality and promote equal pay and equality proofed pay structures within councils and contractors providing local government services;

b) Working with the national executive council, the women’s committee, all of the UK TUC and equality bodies to campaign for policies to strengthen equal pay legislation and greater compliance including:

i)Mandatory equal pay audits and equality impact assessments;

ii) Reinstatement of equal pay questionnaires;

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

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

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

vi) An end to ‘levelling down’ of men’s pay, the ability to bring collective claims and use of in-house comparators for employees in outsourced services.