Figures released this week show that 100 Health Trusts have seen a widening of the gender pay gap this year. This is extremely disappointing and as these are publicly run bodies should be leading the way in eliminating the pay gap.
No one should be paid less for their efforts. Labour was the party that introduced the Equal Pay Act, the Sex Discrimination Act and a three important Statutory Instruments to tackle discrimination and pay inequality. One of the last laws we passed in government was Equality Act in 2010. This paved the way for the current UK Government to investigate the gender pay gap.
This week also marks the 20th anniversary of the National Minimum Wage being introduced by Labour in 1999. I am proud of our achievements so far, but there is so much more we can and should do. We need equal pay now.
The gender pay gap has been tackled head on in Wales by the Welsh Assembly and during Women and Equality’s Questions I wanted the UK Government to give assurances that they will match funding used in Wales, which we currently get through being a member of the EU, once we leave.
In 2016, £8.5m of investment came from the European Social Fund to the Welsh Assembly to support over 2,900 female employees to develop their careers and undertake leadership training. Almost 2,300 of these participants gained a qualification. Action like this has ensured that the gender pay gap in Wales is lower than in England and Scotland.
I was disappointed that the Minister was unable to tell me if we would still receive this important funding after we leave, putting into doubt our ability to continue to tackle the gender pay gap.
Last week I supported Equal Pay Day 2016. This was to raise awareness of how far we have travelled in bringing an end to the gender pay gap, but also highlighting how the momentum to eradicating this pay gap has evaporated.
The Equal Pay Act was introduced 46 years ago and yet from Thursday last week the UK’s female workforce will effectively be working for free until 31 December, due to the scale of the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap for women working full-time is 13.9%.
The pay gap has been closing but progress is slow. At the current rate of progress (2012-15) it will take over 60 years to close the gap for full-time workers. There’s no one cause of the gap, but important factors include discrimination, undervaluing roles predominately done by women, dominance of men in the best paid positions and unequal caring responsibilities. Read more “Equal Pay Day 2016”