Commission and British Chambers of Commerce publish equal pay guide for small businesses

The Equality and Human Rights Commission and the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) today urged small and medium size businesses to examine their pay systems to ensure they comply with equal pay laws.

As part of the Commission’s drive to increase transparency around pay in the workplace, the Commission and the BCC have jointly published a quick and easy guide to help employers do this.

The process is relatively simple for a small organisation and should take no longer than four hours, according to the guidance published today.

While there are, of course, multiple causes of the pay gap, using this guidance to create fair transparent pay systems would be a good start in closing the gap. Forty years since the Equal Pay Act, women who work full time are still paid on average 16.4 % less per hour than men. This gap is wider in the private sector than in the public, at 21.6 % compared to 14.6 %.

David Frost, Director General, British Chambers of Commerce
“Businesses want to pay people fairly for the job that they do. This guidance should help smaller businesses analyse any pay gap and make any changes required by law.

Taking action now to make pay systems transparent and fair should help businesses recruit the best talent to enable the private sector to drive economic recovery”

Dr Jean Irvine, Commissioner at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
“Employers need pay systems that are both transparent and fair. While transparency is not enough in itself to reduce the pay gap between men and women, it does provide clarity; it is difficult, if not impossible, to resolve a problem that cannot be seen.

“What we ask of small and medium size employers is not difficult; it takes minimal time and effort but can offer a real return. Linking equal work to equal pay will see employees rewarded fairly for the work they do. Employees will enjoy the benefits of working for a company which actively promotes equality while employers will protect themselves from a potentially costly and time consuming equal pay claim.”

Ends

For more press information contact the Commission’s media office on 020 3117 0255, out of hours 07767 272 818.

For further information from the British Chambers of Commerce, please contact Lisa Morrison, External Affairs Officer on 0207 6545812 or at l.morrison@britishchambers.org.uk

For general enquiries please contact the Commission’s national helpline: England 0845 604 6610, Scotland 0845 604 5510 or Wales 0845 604 8810.

Notes to Editors

For a copy of the guidance go to www.equalityhumanrights.com/equalpay-quickstart

In 2009:

  • the full-time, mean gender pay gap was 16.4%.
  • the part-time mean gender pay gap, i.e. comparing women’s average hourly part-time pay with men’s full-time pay, is 35.3 %.

Action on the part of small and medium-sized employers to ensure they are paying their employees fairly would follow a trend of larger organisations, who are increasingly undertaking pay audits to ensure men and women who do work of equal value are rewarded accordingly.

The Commission is a statutory body established under the Equality Act 2006, which took over the responsibilities of Commission for Racial Equality, Disability Rights Commission and Equal Opportunities Commission. It is the independent advocate for equality and human rights in Britain. It aims to reduce inequality, eliminate discrimination, strengthen good relations between people, and promote and protect human rights.

The Commission enforces equality legislation on age, disability, gender, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation or transgender status, and encourages compliance with the Human Rights Act. It also gives advice and guidance to businesses, the voluntary and public sectors, and to individuals.

The BCC sits at the heart of a powerful nationwide network of Accredited Chambers of Commerce, serving over 100,000 businesses across the UK, which employ over five million people. For more information visit: www.britishchambers.org.uk.

Last Updated: 02 Sep 2010