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MPs attack government for ‘ignoring gender pay gap recommendations’

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
A group of MPs has criticised the government for failing to take on board a list of recommendations to help eliminate the gender pay gap.

The Women and Equalities Committee said the government is not effectively tackling the structural causes of the gender pay gap after “ignoring the evidence put before it”.

In March 2016, the cross-party committee of MPs published a report with 17 recommendations to combat the gender pay gap.

The MPs said it was “deeply disappointing” the government had not taken on its recommendations.

The recommendations included a review into the part-time pay penalty and into flexible working which “lies at the heart of addressing the gender pay gap”. The MPs said the government is not taking the steps needed to ensure flexible working is offered to all employees, particularly those in lower paid sectors.

It also recommended supporting parents to share childcare equally because “as long as women continue to take the majority of responsibility for childcare and other forms of unpaid caring, pay differentials will persist”.

In its response, the government said it recognises the benefits of men and women sharing care equally, but the MPs said the flagship Shared Parental Leave policy is “predicted to make little difference to behaviour”.

The equalities MPs also wanted to see more support for women returning to the workforce after time out. It also wanted the government to address low pay in highly feminised sectors such as catering, cleaning and caring.

“Other than the minimum wage, there has been no co-ordinated attempt to address the issue faced by women in low paid sectors”, the committee said.

‘Deeply disappointing our recommendations not taken on board’

Committee chair, Maria Miller, said: “The government says there is no place for a gender pay gap in modern Britain and has restated its pledge to end the pay gap within a generation. But 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.

“We made practical, evidence-based recommendations to address these issues. They were widely supported by a range of stakeholders including businesses, academics, and unions. It is deeply disappointing that our recommendations have not been taken on board by government.

“My Committee will continue to pursue urgent action to reduce the gender pay gap – starting by questioning the Secretary of State for Women and Equalities on this inadequate response to our recommendations.”

‘We know there’s more to do’

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 more people a year are taking advantage of the right to request flexible working and the introduction of Shared Parental Leave gives parents extra flexibility and we will continue to evaluate this as it beds in. Women over 40 can also get support 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.”

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