Fawcett Society launches ‘Right to Know’ Bill

The Fawcett Society says many women don’t know their rights with regard to equal pay as it launches a new Bill aimed at giving women a ‘Right to Know’ what male colleagues doing similar jobs are being paid.

equal pay with gender sign instead of the 'q'


Four in 10 people do not know that women have a right to equal pay for work of equal value and only 36% know women have a legal right to ask male colleagues about their salary if they suspect pay discrimination, according to a survey by gender equality campaigners the Fawcett Society.

The survey comes as the Fawcett Society launches a new Bill which would give women who suspect
they are not getting equal pay a ‘Right to Know’ what a male comparator is paid. The Society says this would
give women the opportunity to resolve equal pay issues without having to go to court. Its survey also found that only 24% of employees say that salaries are discussed openly in their workplace.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “50 years on from the Equal Pay Act the law designed to address pay discrimination is still poorly understood and too often ignored. Not only are many women still paid less than men for the same job, four in 10 don’t even realise they have a right to equal pay for work of equal value.

“The culture of secrecy that discourages women from talking about salaries has allowed pay discrimination to persist. Women do not have the information they need to challenge this injustice.

“Our new Equal Pay Bill would give women who are not being paid equally a route to get the information they need. Our research shows that eight in 10 men and women support women being able to find out if they are paid less than a man for equal work. It’s time we gave all women the Right to Know.”

Fawcett’s survey also shows:
– 46% of men said they would probably tell a female colleague how much they earned if she asked.
– 34% of men said they would be more likely to share their salary with a female colleague who suspected she was being paid unequally; 52% of men said this would make no difference to them.
– Only 8% strongly agree that people at their workplace talk openly about pay.

The data also shows that women often feel uncomfortable talking about salaries to those they work with. 52% of women would be embarrassed to ask their male colleagues how much they earn. The Fawcett Society says that the Right to Know Bill, sponsored by Baroness Margaret Prosser, would overcome this by ensuring women can get information from their employer about equal pay if they suspect pay discrimination rather than having to rely on personal, closed door conversations with colleagues.

The Bill also aims to extend gender pay gap reporting to companies with 100 or more employees; introduce gender pay gap reporting by ethnicity; require employers to publish an action plan to tackle gender pay gaps; require employers to tell employees about their right to equal pay from the beginning of their contract; update pay discrimination law by giving women back their lost pension rights when they win a case, as well as injury to feelings compensation; and write into UK law post-Brexit provisions for holding a single source accountable for pay discrimination.

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