Documents considered by the Committee on 16 May 2018 Contents

6Equal Pay and the Gender Pay Gap

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

Cleared from scrutiny; drawn to the attention of the Women and Equalities Committee

Document details

(a) Commission report on the implementation of the Commission Recommendation on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency; (b) Commission Communication: EU Action Plan 2017–19 Tackling the gender pay gap.

Legal base

Department

Home Office (Government Equalities Office)

Document Numbers

(a) (39236), 14735/17, COM (17) 671; (b) (39246), 14733/17 + ADD 1, COM (17) 678

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

6.1Equal Pay and tackling the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) is a topic of considerable public interest currently in the UK. This is mostly because of the interesting GPG data emerging as a result of the requirement for employers of more than 250 employees to submit GPG data to the Government’s designated portal.69 Certain public authorities are also subject to this requirement.70

6.2On 10 January we considered a Commission Report—document (a) and Action Plan document (b)—addressing how to tackle the GPG across the EU.

6.3In our Report of the same date,71 we asked questions about:

6.4These questions are of wider interest across the House, given the Report of the previous Women and Equalities Committee on the GPG72 and the BBC Pay inquiry of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee.73

6.5Given the above and our own interest in this topical area, we wrote to the new Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) on 28 March 2018,74 chasing the Government’s response to our Report. We now report her response to us in a letter of 24 April 2018.75 In that letter, the Minister:

6.6Next, the Minister responds to our questions about the Government’s own commitment as an employer to eliminate the GPG, referring to the example we had highlighted at the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU). She says the Government prefers to use the “median gender pay gap” (8.9% at DExEU, much lower than the national median at 18.4%)), rather than the “mean” figure at DExEU (15.26%) because the latter is “less likely to be affected by a small number of high earners and best represents the ‘typical’ pay difference in an organisation”. She adds that the Government is taking a number of steps as an employer to minimise the gender pay gap in the civil service: more diverse recruitment and promotion and more flexible working arrangements, with the ultimate goal of being the most inclusive UK employer by 2020.

6.7We thank the Minister for her response. We are now content to clear these non-legislative documents from scrutiny but draw this chapter to the attention of the Women and Equalities Committee.

6.8However, we would observe that we are unconvinced by the Government’s reasoning for wanting to refer to the “median pay gap” rather than the “mean”. We think that what the Government perceives to be the distorting nature of the “small number of higher earners” in the “mean” figures tells its own story about not enough women being appointed to the highest earning positions. Such an added dimension to GPG data should not be discounted for data which makes for more comfortable reading for the Government as an employer itself. On that note, we are glad to see that Government is taking steps to “achieve a more diverse Civil Service at the senior grades”.

Full details of the documents

(a) Commission report on the implementation of the Commission Recommendation on strengthening the principle of equal pay between men and women through transparency: (39236), 14735/17, COM (17) 671; (b) Commission Communication: EU Action Plan 2017–19 Tackling the gender pay gap: (39246), 14733/17+ ADD 1, COM (17) 678.

Previous Committee Reports

Ninth Report, HC 301–ix (2017–19), chapter 3 (10 January 2018).


69 The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017.

70 The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017.

71 Ninth Report, HC 301–ix (2017–19), chapter 3 (10 January 2018).

72 Second Report, Women and Equalities Committee, HC 582 (2014–15).

73 BBC Pay Inquiry launched 9 January 2018.

74 The text of this letter will be loaded shortly here on our Committee’s website.

75 Letter from the Minister for Women (Victoria Atkins) to Sir William Cash, 24 April 2018.

76 Equality Analysis, EU (Withdrawal) Bill published by the Department for Exiting the EU in July 2017

77 The amendment now appears at paragraph 22 of Schedule 7 of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill as introduced to the Lords on 18 January 2018.




Published: 22 May 2018