The new Minister for Women and Equalities says the UK’s exit from the EU will not undermine the Government’s commitment to eliminating the gender pay gap.
In a letter to the Women and Equalities Committee mentioned in a report today, Penny Mordaunt says the delegated powers in the Withdrawal Bill will “only be used to make technical changes to equality legislation to remove redundant references and correct other deficiencies, to ensure that the legislation continues to work as intended”.
She adds that the Bill will provide further transparency on how delegated powers will be used in relation to the Equality Acts since it requires the Government to provide equality impact statements to Parliament before delegated legislation is laid.
She says the Government has made a commitment to include a requirement for such equality impact statements in other primary legislation needed to enable the UK’s exit from the EU and considers that the Government has a “clear resolve” to maintain the UK’s “world class record” on equalities, including on equal pay and gender pay gaps”.
confirms that the Government did not formally consult the devolved administrations on these documents as they do not require further action—despite acknowledging that equal opportunities is devolved to Northern Ireland and there are some limited devolved competences on pay transparency for the Scottish and Welsh Governments.
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 and says the ultimate goal is to be the most inclusive UK employer by 2020. It says, in relation to cases highlighted in the Department for Exiting the EU, that it prefers to look at the median pay gap rather than the mean which it says is distorted by “a small number of higher earners”. The Women and Equalities Committee says it is unconvinced by this response. It states: “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’.”