I share your objectives to ensure equal pay, and I am pleased that there is already work underway across Government to address these issues. I fully support efforts to improve pay transparency and identify barriers to career progression, although I do not agree that the provisions of the Equal Pay Bill would achieve this in the right way.
Under the Equality Act 2010, it is currently unlawful for an employer to try and stop employees from sharing information about what they earn. I also know that my colleagues in government are fully committed to the Equal Pay protections in the Equality Act 2010. Moreover, in 2017, ground-breaking regulations were introduced, requiring large employers to publish their gender pay gaps annually. Greater transparency, thanks to mandatory reporting, is motivating employers to identify barriers to women’s progression in the workplace and put pressure on them to take action to address them.
The time limit for bringing an equal pay claim before an Employment Tribunal is also already longer than for many other types of claim, at six months. Equal pay cases can also be brought in the civil courts up to six years after the claimant has left their position. Individuals can bring cases where they believe there are disparities in pay for equal work with the same employer.
As the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for Whistleblowing, I recognise that the Employment Tribunal process can be lengthy and complex, and I understand calls for reform. I am working with the APPG to propose reforms to whistleblowing legislation that will provide better protection for those who speak up against wrongdoing at work or elsewhere, including breaches of equal pay legislation.