THE BLOG

Dear Vince... Please Act on Equal Pay

18/01/2015 09:00 GMT | Updated 19/03/2015 09:59 GMT

This week I and many others in the Labour Party have joined readers of Grazia magazine to write to the Business Secretary to ask him to implement pay transparency.

This measure would see large companies of over 250 employees publish the pay gap between the hourly wages of men and women on an annual basis.

The idea is simple, if we can see where the pay gap still exists, it will focus minds on taking the actions necessary to reduce that gap. It may be that men and women doing jobs of equivalent skill and value are being paid differently or that all the highest paid roles are held by men. It's not about prescribing solutions; employers and employees are best placed to tackle the issues within their own business; but they need the information.

Don't take it from me, take it from the handful of companies who already do this. Large employers like PwC and insurers FriendsLife who say publicly that "what gets publicly reported, gets managed better".

Other European countries such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Belgium already require this of employers, and unsurprisingly they all have higher levels of gender equality.

In fact, our own Parliament voted in favour of pay transparency last month - by some 258 votes to eight. Before Christmas, Labour's Sarah Champion MP put forward a bill in Parliament that would have implemented pay transparency rules within the Equality Act (2010) that the last Labour Government put in place.

When the Liberal Democrats entered Government, they shelved these powers and claimed a voluntary approach would be enough to drive progress. So what does that progress look like? In five years, just five companies report on their gender pay gap.

Now, four months to go until the election and the Liberal Democrats say they've changed their mind. Minister for Equalities and Business Minister Jo Swinson MP has said "Making large companies with over 250 employees publish the average pay of their male and female staff will create transparency about the gender pay gap." But not a single Liberal Democrat Minister voted for Sarah Champion's Bill. So, I'm giving the Liberal Democrats another chance to put their money where their mouth is. They have the power to do it - Vince Cable heads-up the Department responsible for it, and Labour will give them our full support in Parliament to get it through, so I've written to him to urge him to get on with it.

Grazia magazine have been leading a campaign for pay transparency. Here's what their editor Jane Bruton says:

"We hope that this piece of legislation will get all the support it needs to be implemented, so that women can finally see the tangible change we believe Section 78 could make in their lives. We wholeheartedly support Gloria De Piero in her efforts to lobby Vince Cable and will continue to campaign on this issue ahead of its second reading on February 27, making it our priority in the run up to the election."

If you agree, join our campaign and call on Vince to act now.

Gloria de Piero is Shadow Minister for Women and Equality and Labour MP for Ashfield