Time for the Sisters to organise

2 10 2010

Yesterday twitter was abuzz with self congratulatory back slapping. “We’ve passed the Equality Act 2010”. “It’s in force” “We’ve ended discrimination”.

The Equality Act 2010 is an excellent piece of legislation. An admirable attempt to codify the law of discrimination and stengthen existing law and provisions.

But there’s something you’ve all missed.

We have a ConDem government which has often shown it cares little for protecting women.

You have all missed that the commencement order leaves out the most important protection of all.

The most powerful provision in the Equality Act is S 78 which permits Government to draft Regulations requiring certain employers to publish earnings data showing there is a difference in pay between men and women.

Employment lawyers will tell you great as that first industrial action was as dramatised by Made in Dagenham. Great as the Equal Pay Act 1970 is. It is often very difficult to find a male comparator for a woman in the workplace and many Equal Pay Act claims either fail or are never made because of this.

The Government has the power to implement  Regulations requiring this data to be made public. On searching I can find no evidence that they have or intend to.

So can I suggest that instead of congratulating ourselves we recognise that there is a serious task left to accomplish and that political sisters and brothers start organising and protesting to demand the necessary Regulations?

You can start by asking Lynn Featherstone to say whether she has any plans to implement Section 78 by contacting her here




4 responses

2 10 2010
lynne featherstone

I thought it might be helful to have the facts rather than the myth above.

The Labour government were not going to implement this statute until 2013 at the earliest. I quote from the explanatory notes to the Bill:

‘The Government’s aim is for employers regularly to publish such information on a voluntary basis. To give voluntary arrangements time to work, the Government (at this time which was a Labour government) does not intend to make regulations under this power before April 2013. The power would then be used only if sufficient progress on reporting had not been made by that time’.

Lynne Featherstone

2 10 2010

Welcome Lynn. It’s a real honour to have a visit from the Coalition’s chief apologist for the shoddy way they treat women.

Lawyers and I expect non lawyers amongst you will have noted from Lynn’s response that she does not state whether the present government will implement Section 78 in the event of non progress.

Nor does she mention a likely date for implementation.

Nor does she mention whether any additional guidance will be published to encourage voluntary publication. Nor mechanisms for monitoring.

So I’d encourage activists to ignore the spin (which doesn’t withstand 2 seconds scrutiny) and keep writing to Lynn asking about intention and time scales for implementation.

I’d put good money on Section 78 not being implemented. The senior partners in this coalition won’t want to anger their big business contributors and the Lib Dems will, of course, meekly fall in line and blame economic conditions.

Lynn in answer to your point I, other activists and the Fawcett Society would be just as robustly calling on a Labour government for earlier implementation. The difference is we would certainly get a warmer reception. You’ll find that Labour members and activists are prepared to be critical friends of our own government. We wouldn’t abandon ideals for the promise of a government job.

2 12 2010
If Lynne Featherstone had any sense of shame she’d resign « Turning Bristol Red

[…] 3 months ago today Lynne Featherstone (ConDem Equalities Minister) dropped by my blog where I was calling for immediate implementation of Equalities Act provisions on …. As an employment lawyer I know how tough it is for women to prove their Equal Pay Act claims and […]

8 03 2011

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