MPs on a select committee have attacked the government for failing to implement reforms aimed at eliminating the gender pay gap.
The Women and Equalities Committee said that government has failed to act on its recommendations on tackling the structural cause of wage inequality. MPs said that the government’s response was ‘inadequate’ and ‘deeply disappointing’, whilst the government stated that they were committed to tackling the gender pay gap.
The committee has highlighted three areas where it wants the government to justify rejecting its recommendations. For example, the MPs said all jobs should be available to work flexibly unless an employer can demonstrate a business case against doing so. In response, the government said the right to request flexible working – which is already in place – “strikes a balance between giving employees the flexibility to combine work with other responsibilities and allowing employers to plan effectively”.
The committee also asked for a ‘more effective policy on shared parental leave’, with fathers getting three months well-paid maternal leave. However, government has rejected this proposal, arguing that shared parental leave was ‘still a very new policy’.
Lastly the committee recommended a ‘National Pathways into Work’ scheme to help women over the age of 40 back into the labour market. The government’s reply was that it already provided “advice and support to help women over 40 through the National Careers Service” as well as a range of other assistance, including loans, a career review and training programmes.
Committee chair Maria Miller said: “Without effectively tackling the key issues of flexible working, sharing unpaid caring responsibilities, and supporting women aged over 40 back into the workforce, the gender pay gap will not be eliminated. It is deeply disappointing that our recommendations have not been taken on board by Government.”
A Government spokesperson said: “We are committed to tackling the gender pay gap and our policies, which aim to balance the needs of employees and businesses while addressing this gap, are working. We now have the lowest gender pay gap on record, around 60,000 people a year are taking advantage of flexible working arrangements and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave gives parents extra flexibility and we will continue to evaluate this as it beds in. We’re also supporting women over 40 in the workplace through the National Careers Service. But we know there’s more to do. That’s why we are requiring employers to publish their gender pay and gender bonus gap for the first time from April and we are giving working parents of three and four year olds up to 30 hours of free childcare from September.”