Lynne Featherstone: even worse than Harriet Harman?

Yesterday’s papers included a story about the forthcoming sly introduction of ‘gender pay audits’ into the private sector – something even Harriet Harman didn’t manage to introduce during the execrable Labour administration of 1997-2010. Lynne Featherstone clearly wants to go down in history as an even more extreme militant feminist than Harriet Harman. The ideological objective of forcing companies to introduce gender pay audits will encourage feminists to make vexatious claims against their employers, and employment tribunals are notoriously feminist-friendly. No doubt we’ll have more ‘equal pay for work of equal value’ nonsense, where issues such as risk to life and limb, unsocial hours, time spent away from home etc. aren’t taken into account (the overwhelming majority of deaths in the workplace are of men). From yesterday’s Mail Online:

Companies will have to review the wages of all their workers if they lose an employment tribunal claim over equal pay. Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone announced yesterday that tribunals will also be able to order firms to publish details of how men’s and women’s earnings compare across their business. She told MPs that she hoped the new rules would expose discrimination in companies that pay men more than women without justification.

Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman had sought to introduce similar proposals, which would have forced all firms to carry out equal pay audits. These were scrapped by the Coalition in December 2010.

Mrs Featherstone said that while the Government would encourage companies to carry out such investigations, only those found to have broken the law would be made to do so. She explained: ‘This will mean that an employment tribunal which finds that an employer has discriminated on grounds of sex in contractual or non-contractual pay will be obliged to order the employer to conduct a pay audit in cases where continuing discrimination is likely. An audit would not be ordered if an audit has been completed in the last three years, the employer has transparent pay practices, or the employer can show a good reason why it would not be useful.’ She said the smallest businesses would be exempt, and that a consultation would be held this year to establish the details of the plan.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: ‘It is right to take strong action in the few cases where employers have been shown to have breached the law. This strikes a balance between promoting workplace equality and letting businesses get on with their jobs.’

‘This strikes a balance’? In the immortal words of John McEnroe, ‘You cannot be serious!’