Equality Bill and flexible working extension will help deliver fairness at work

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date: 3 December 2008

embargo: For immediate release

Welcoming the Equality Bill in the Queen's Speech today (Wednesday), TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: 'With the gender pay gap moving in the wrong direction, the Equality Bill is much needed. The decision to press ahead with extending the right to request flexible working means that ministers have come to the obvious conclusion that a mere right to request does not threaten a single job.

'Nevertheless we are disappointed that the Bill will not require employers to do equal pay audits. Pay in the private sector is often secretive. Nobody knows why some members of staff are paid more than others, or who is eligible for performance bonuses. Until employers are made to show why they pay different workers at different rates, and justify any discrepancies based on gender, the pay gap will never close.

'The Bill is also an opportunity to provide a clearer and more accessible legal framework to protect workers from discrimination. Putting the recent legal decision of Coleman vs. Attridge into UK law will give better protection to carers of disabled relatives.

'We welcome the anticipated new powers in the Bill to ensure that tribunal decisions are followed by changes in workplace practices.

'But while these legislative changes are welcome, employees need a voice for equality to make a real difference. The extra funding for equality reps, who help deliver fairness in the workplace and avoid having to resort to legal action will help employers unleash the skills and talents of their workforce.

'However, equality reps need the same rights as other workplace reps to paid time off and training if they are to be fully effective.'

NOTES TO EDITORS:

- All TUC press releases can be found at www.tuc.org.uk

Contacts:

Rob Holdsworth T: 020 7467 1372 M: 07717 531150 E: rholdsworth@tuc.org.uk

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