Tories would force firms to conduct pay audits

This is an odd thing to hear from a Tory shadow minister.

Theresa May has said that employers who are found guilty of pay discrimination should be forced to conduct an equal pay audit.

For those unfamiliar with this process, it involves evaluating all the jobs in an organisation, then assessing whether those that are done mostly by women are paid less than those of equal value which are done mostly by men. As you can imagine, it is a long and costly exercise.

At the moment, if employers are found guilty of discrimination, they are only required to make changes and pay compensation to those employees who have brought the case. Under Theresa May’s proposal, a single successful case against an employer would force an equal pay audit.

Public Sector employers have already been forced by legal action to conduct equal pay audits and these have revealed significant pay differences between predominantly male and female groups of workers. If similar exercises were carried out in the private sector, the figures could be even worse.

Both the audit and the resulting adjustments to pay and back pay could be extremely expensive. The gender pay gap might be morally wrong but tackling it this way could put some firms out of business.

The companies that would welcome such a proposal are employment lawyers and the remuneration consultants who would carry out the pay audits. Most others would probably want to see this quietly dropped.

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