Government consults on compulsory equal pay audits

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The Government has published "Equal Pay Audits: A Further Consultation", seeking views on the detail of employment tribunals’ power to order equal pay audits where employers are found to have breached equal pay. The Regulations dealing with this are expected to be introduced in 2014.

Background

The Government announced its commitment to compulsory equal pay audits back in June 2012 – see Mind the gap – Equal Pay Audits to be imposed on employers who "break the law". It has since then included a new section 139A in the Equality Act 2010 allowing for Regulations to be made requiring tribunals to order equal pay audits in certain circumstances where an employer breaches equal pay law. The tribunal will be obliged to order an audit where it considers there may be continuing or likely discrimination, unless: an audit has been completed in the last three years; the employer has transparent pay practices; or the disadvantages of carrying out an audit would outweigh the benefits.

The consultation

The consultation paper seeks views on various issues including whether:

  • the Regulations should set out minimum requirements for the content and form of an equal pay audit while allowing tribunals to specify the detail
  • independent auditors or tribunal judges should sign-off on equal pay audits
  • equal pay audits should be published or simply disclosed to the relevant parties
  • the guidance from the Equality and Human Rights Commission on voluntary pay audits is suitable or whether additional guidance is needed.

Next steps and your input

We oppose mandatory equal pay audits and will continue to lobby the Government on behalf of our members, seeking to minimise the effect of audits and the costs associated with them. We would welcome members’ input on the consultation, particularly where you have experience of voluntary audits. If you would be willing to share your views, please contact Tim Thomas, Head of Employment Policy.

The consultation closes on 18 July 2013

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