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Tom Brake MP backs EOC pay campaign - it's time to get even

January 15, 2004 12:00 AM

Tom Brake, MP for Carshalton and Wallington has today backed the Equal Opportunities Commission Equal Pay Campaign, It's time to get even. New EOC research shows that women in Carshalton and Wallington may be destined for major disappointment over their salaries. The survey, carried out by BMRB Access Omnibus Surveys for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) reveals that 88% of women surveyed, rising to 94% of those aged 24 and under, expect to earn the same as a man with the same qualifications. Recent data shows the difference in average pay between men and women working full time is £559 per month. The New Earnings Survey 2003 indicates that women in the South East earn £145.20 less than men. In the South East, men earn £560.90 per week, while women earn £415.70 according to the New Earnings Survey.

These findings coincide with the launch of new EOC fair pay campaign, It's time to get even, which helps women check they are being paid fairly. It's against the law to pay women less than a man for the same or similar work. While the difference between the average male and female salary has a number of causes, not all of which employers can tackle alone, many women are still being paid unfairly.

However, it's hard for women to detect if they are being paid unfairly, if they can't compare their pay with men. The BMRB research shows that:

  • Women (29% of those questioned) are more likely not to know what their colleagues earn than men (20%);
  • More people in socio-economic groups A and B felt that they knew what most of their colleagues earn compared to people in groups C, D and E (36% of people in social group AB knew about their colleagues' earnings compared to 18% of people in social group E).

Tom Brake MP said,

"I am backing the EOC campaign because I want all of my constituents to get a fair deal for the work that they do. The latest figures from the EOC show that women rightly expect equal pay but the reality is very different. Employers need to carry out pay reviews to check they are paying all of their staff fairly."

Julie Mellor, Chair of the EOC, said:

"Forget about sex, politics and religion, pay is the new taboo. In Britain today, the whole business of pay is shrouded in mystery. And this survey also shows that if you are a woman on a lower wage you are even more likely to be in the dark on how much you should expect."

"Discrimination flourishes in this culture of secrecy when people cannot be sure they are rewarded fairly."

From 14th January, which the EOC has designated Check Your Pay Day, a salary calculator specially adapted from PayFinder.com will be available through the EOC's websitewww.eoc.org.uk. This will give available information on average salaries for different jobs, as an indicator. Further information and advice is on the EOC's website or available through the EOC's confidential free helpline (0845 601 5901) for those who think there may be a problem.

The research also revealed that more than two thirds of men and women overall (81% of women and 51% of men) would be influenced by whether an organisation could prove that they paid women fairly when choosing an employer.

Julie Mellor said: "Employers who want to recruit and retain the best people need to demonstrate there is no discrimination in their workplace. It is also in everyone's interest to avoid a claim of pay discrimination going to a tribunal."

The new EOC Code of Practice on Equal Pay (launched in December 2003) recommends equal pay reviews as the best means for employers to ensure that their pay system delivers equal pay. The code and the EOC's Equal Pay Kits for large and smaller employers are all available from www.eoc.org.uk.

New posters and other materials are available to be downloaded from the EOC website www.eoc.org.uk and will be rolled out across Britain through a wide range of organisations who support the EOC's campaign to pay women fairly, including the trade unions Amicus, Connect, GMB and the TUC; local authorities, universities, colleges and businesses. Viv Andrews from PayFinder said, "We are delighted to be able to assist the EOC with this campaign. PayFinder is committed to promoting increased transparency and equality in the workplace and we hope that the salary calculator will help lots of women to discover what they are truly worth."

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