The pay gap between men and women will be eliminated within a decade if Jeremy Corbyn wins the race for Number 10.
In a bold offer to women, Labour has pledged to wipe out gender pay inequality by 2030 – 50 years earlier than what is currently predicted.
The party would roll out a series of wage-related measures, one of which would involve fining companies with gender pay gaps.
Dawn Butler, shadow women and equalities secretary, said it was “not good enough” that the gender pay gap would take until almost 2080 – according to equality campaign charity the Fawcett Society – to be closed under the Conservatives.
“Labour’s real living wage, robust gender pay auditing – including fining organisations that fail to take action – will help us deliver real change and meet this ambitious target,” said the deputy party leader candidate.
Data compiled by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) shows that the average gender pay gap for full-time work stands at 13.1% in the UK.
According to the Fawcett Society, it would take 60 years for that gulf to be bridged if the current improvement rate overseen by the Tory-led government continues.
The Trades Union Congress (TUC) estimates it would take closer to 35 years – until 2054 – to close the gap.
It was Tory prime minister Theresa May, however, who introduced gender pay gap reporting for companies with 250 employees or more in 2017.
Labour’s 2030 election campaign promise has been made to coincide with what is dubbed “equal pay day” – the day when women effectively stop getting paid for the rest of the year compared to their male counterparts due to the disparity in wages – on Thursday.
The party’s pledges include:
- £10 an hour minimum wage.
- A workers’ protection agency with powers to fine organisations that fail to report and act on their gender pay gap.
- Forcing all employers with more than 250 employees to obtain government certification on gender equality – or face further auditing and fines. The threshold would be lowered to businesses with 50-plus staff by the end of 2020.
- Making gender equality certificates a necessity for companies bidding for public sector contracts.
- Strengthening protections against unfair dismissal and redundancies, with extra rights for pregnant women.
- Rolling out collective bargaining to raise the floor on pay across entire sectors.
- Introducing national minimum-level pay scales in low-paid sectors with overwhelmingly female workforces, such as childcare and school support staff.
- Applying pay ratios to private companies and enforce maximum pay ratios of 20:1 in the public sector.
- Requiring large employers to introduce a menopause workplace policy to break the “associated stigma”.
- The details of the gender pay gap fine would be “open to consultation” but the party highlighted a similar scheme in Iceland where companies, depending on size and revenue, can face penalties of up to £355 per day.
Shadow employment rights secretary Laura Pidcock said: “Employers will no longer be able to treat the issue of the gender pay gap as an afterthought.
“Instead, they will be expected to take proactive steps to close it.
“Labour will deliver the real change that women need in the workplace.”
Tom Kibasi, director of the IPPR think tank, said the UK economy is “blighted by chronically low pay—which disproportionately affects women”.
He suggested other Labour-backed measures such as sectoral collective bargaining and a higher minimum wage will “go a long way” to closing the gap.
He added that IPPR’s research suggested, however, that “people commonly overestimate what they can achieve in two years and underestimate what can be accomplished in ten”.
He added: “It is perfectly plausible that the gender pay gap can be closed by 2030—if government, business and society are determined to make the change.”
Frances O’Grady, the TUC general secretary, voiced support for the “bold” policy plans put forward by the Jeremy Corbyn-led party.
She said: “These proposals would help bring about real change for working women.
“Too many employers are getting away with treating women like second-class citizens, especially when they have children.”
Liz Truss, the Conservative women and equalities minister, said Labour were “overpromising something they cannot deliver”.
She added: “There’s been huge progress since 2010 - 1.8 million more women in work and more women led businesses accessing finance. Jeremy Corbyn’s battering of the economy would set all that progress back and result in these advances being lost.”
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.