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ALL large public and private-sector employers will have to prove their gender equality practices or face further investigations and fines under a Labour government, Dawn Butler said today.
The shadow minister for women and equalities said that the government’s new requirement for larger employers to audit pay differences between the sexes did not go far enough.
Labour’s policy follows the Icelandic model in ensuring that gaps are not just being identified but that necessary action is taken to close them, she said.
Employers meeting the criteria will obtain government certification and be eligible for public-sector procurement contracts.
Iceland, which is consistently ranked top for gender equality, became the first nation in the world last year to require firms to prove what action is being taken to establish equal pay.
Closing the pay gap could bring benefits to the economy of £90 billion, a recent PricewaterhouseCoopers report estimates.
Ms Butler said: “In 1970, Labour introduced the Equal Pay Act but, nearly 50 years later, women are still paid on average over 14 per cent less than men.
“It’s time to close the gender pay gap once and for all. But to address these deep-rooted inequalities, we need action, not just audits.
“The next Labour government will require all large employers to prove how they plan to tackle their gender pay gaps and prove they are equal-pay employers.
“Labour will make it a priority to close the gender pay gap and tackle the structural barriers facing women across our society, creating a country that truly works for the many, not the few.”
In the Commons, Ms Butler praised Speaker John Bercow for helping her raise the International Women’s Day flag over the Parliament building for the first time in history.
She criticised Prime Minister Theresa May for presiding over eight years of cuts to benefits and tax changes totalling around £80bn, of which 87 per cent “fall on the shoulders of women.”
“Now, Labour believes that we will make a real difference in closing the gender pay gap only with a combination of sticks and carrots,” Ms Butler continued.
She said that only allowing companies with certification to bid for government contracts would create a “win-win situation” and was “the right thing to do.”
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