Wednesday 23 February 2011
The Equal Pay Act at 40 conference focussed on the implications of 40 years of the Equal Pay Act, how such legislation has been incorporated into the Equality Act the implications of the most recent casework and the broader ramifications of unequal pay still marring our workplaces.
About the conference
Carla Bennett of Thompsons Solicitors opened the conference articulating many of the problems with the weight of the government cuts falling heavily on women, an idea which was highlighted throughout the day. Carla cited the good work of the TUC in battling against the gender impact of the cuts.
Sheila Wild of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission reported on the groundbreaking Inquiry into Sex discrimination in the Finance sector. Sheila spoke strongly about the endemic pattern of low pay among women in the sector and emphasised how the City of London remains where the grossest disparity lies.
Amanda Brown of the National Union of Teachers was the first of our trade union officials to address the conference. Amanda profiled the Pike v Somerset Council case and the development of the case law was explained by Ben Cooper of Old Square Chambers.
The Gibson v Sheffield City Council case was profiled by Barry Smith of the GMB. The Gibson case will go to the Supreme court in June and Ben Cooper again presented the case law
The high profile and long-running cases of Wilson v HSE and Cadman v HSE were addressed by Marion Scovell of Prospect. Length of service as a determinant in pay, the clustering of women’s pay in successive lower bands than men and women prevented from access to equal pay progression were just some of the main ideas examined both in Marion’s exploration of policy but also in Ben’s explanation of the case law
Anna Bird in her new role as Acting Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society
outlined a critical analysis of the government cuts, outlining how cuts would make more women unemployed especially given that public services are staffed by two thirds women. In explaining how Fawcett lost their judicial review , Anna highlighted how cuts will attack women’s financial independence.
The notoriously complicated area of TUPE and Equal Pay was addressed by Alison Humphry from Unison and Caroline Underhill who examined the Sodexo Ltd v Gutridge case
The Institute will be examining TUPE in a new publication by Richard Arthur of Thompsons Solicitors- approx publication date May 2011. You can contact the office here to pre-order a copy. We will also be holding conferences in June (London) and July (Liverpool) to examine TUPE.
Sally Brett of the TUC introduced the TUC/Wainwright Trust/European Social Fund Historical documentary Scenes from a Turbulent History rounded up the day’s contributions speaking on Farewell Equal Pay Act: future prospects for narrowing the pay gap
You can buy the IER publication on Equal Pay, privatisation and procurement