Women need ‘right to know’ male colleagues’ salaries to tackle pay gap, MP says

Women in the workplace need to be given a “right to know” what their male colleagues earn in order to challenge pay discrimination without having to go to an employment tribunal, a Labour MP has said.

Introducing her Equal Pay (Information and Claims) Bill, Labour MP Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) said many companies operate a “don’t ask don’t tell” policy when it comes to unequal pay, and she added that greater pay transparency would help to close the gender pay gap.

She told the Commons: “Pay discrimination becomes so prevalent because it is hard to get pay transparency.

“Unless a woman knows that a man who is doing equal work to her is being paid more she cannot know if she is being paid equally.

“And at present getting that information all too often requires going to court because it’s not available.”

She added: “It implements a right to know which would give women the right to request the pay data of their male counterparts.

“Where they suspect that an individual or a group may constitute a comparator they would have a right to know that information to be able to do the comparison without having to go to court.”

Barbara Castle – First Woman Minister of Transport – London
Barbara Castle – First Woman Minister of Transport – London

Ms Creasy paid tribute to former Labour minister Barbara Castle who campaigned for the Equal Pay Act in 1970.

She said: “We should never forget to pay tribute to her.

“Despite opposition from those, indeed, in the Labour government at the time to amendments on equal pay, she stuck her neck out for other women and forced that Bill.

“But she was lost from the Cabinet as a result, prompting her to tell another sponsor of this Bill and another legend when it comes to fighting for women’s rights, the member for Camberwell and Peckham (Harriet Harman) ‘remember all Labour prime ministers are bastards’.

“I hope that is not going to be true and I certainly hope that this Prime Minister won’t fall to that type as well.”

The Bill was introduced without a vote, with a second reading scheduled for November 13.

It has little chance of making further progress in its current form without Government backing.