June 26th, 2008 § 0 comments

The Guardian:

Harriet Harman said that plans being published today intended to make private companies demonstrate whether they pay male and female staff equally were designed to tackle “entrenched discrimination” in the workplace.

Ok. So what’s in it then?

A bill to be unveiled in the Queen’s speech later this year, and piloted by Harman, Labour’s deputy leader, will require all public sector firms to publish figures showing the gender pay gap, a requirement which will also be placed on firms with public sector contracts – roughly 30% of all private sector firms.

Harman will also offer a template which private sector firms can use to publish the data, although there will be no immediate statutory requirement on firms to do so. Ministers will consider secondary legislation at some point.

Another bit of ‘name and shame’ legislation. Although this one might make a difference.
The trouble with the other piece, for companies employing illegal immigrants, is that it is part of a punishment and you don’t do a crime if you think you’re going to get caught. This bill will force public body employers and make private emplyers feel they have to, publish the details. What form these details will take and how they are worked out is another matter. Also, it is, in my mind, doubtful as to how widespread these details will be available. Just try and find the illegal workers employers lists… I had to link back to the BBC item because I couldbn’t find the elsewhere. Not even on the UK Borders Agency site.

A white paper being published today will outline the plans, which will also allow employers to give preferential treatment to female or ethnic minority job candidates and which will outlaw age discrimination in the provision of goods and services.

Yay! Outlaw discrimination against oldies! Yay! Allow discrimation against white blokes! Oh, er, hang on a minute…

Interviewed about her plans on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Harman strongly rejected the idea that, as one newspaper headline suggested, she was trying to make women “more equal than men”.

“Women more equal than men? Chance would be a fine thing,” she said.

I heard that interview and Harriot said it with real contempt.

“Part-time women receive 40% less pay than full-time men. Do you think that that’s because they are 40% less intelligent, less committed, less hard-working, less qualified? It’s not the case.”

No, it doesn’t. *Sigh*
You cannot compare part-time against full-time. The comparison has to be part-time/part-time or full-time/full-time.
The following quote is from a government report on the part-time pay gap:

It should be noted, although we do not analyse it, that there is also a large part-time pay penalty for men – teh New Earnings survey suggests that in 2003 part-time men had average hourly earnings that were 32% lower than the average hourly earnings of full time men

Unity dealt with this in March.

Harman said that her plans would not force employers to discriminate against men. But she said that, where candidates were equally qualified, it would allow employers to hire female or ethnic minority candidates without fear of being sued for discrimination.

It may not force employers, but if white men, and if you’re anything else you’re in a minority group, cannot be sue, and anybody else can, that is discrimination of the worst kind.
There are some schemes/initiatives that help disadvantaged minorities that some claim are discriminatory in a reverse way, that they give an unfair advantage. Given the starting point of some of the recipients of these schemes, the still don’t end up on a level with the rest, but they do not remove a right of a group. This bill removes the right of a white man not to be discriminated against. A man from an ethnic minority or a woman, white or not, will be able to sue, but not the white man. (I hope I’ve got my meaning over ok and it’s not sounding like a BNP rant).

She said the government needed to legislate because the law on this subject was currently not clear.

Well, you doing that alright.

The new rules would be “permissive”.

WTF is that meant to mean?

She pointed out Labour had used this kind of “positive discrimination” to bring about a dramatic increase in the number of women in parliament.

I didn’t agree with this either. All woman shortlists. That thing about stuff like that is, how many better candidates were missed because of the single sex policy? It doesn’t matter with private organisations that are, I don’t know, like these posh members clubs, or the Womens Institue. But in public life and to do with employment discrimination shouldn’t be allowed.

she said the new rules would help police forces trying to recruit more black or Asian officers.

How? How is it going to help?

The white paper will also outlaw discrimination in goods and services on the basis of age, a measure likely to cost the Department of Health billions of pounds if it is to fulfil a new duty to end discrimination on the basis of age in healthcare

This is good. Age shouldn’t be a factor in what health care provision is given. When thinking about a treatment, it should be what benefit the patient will receive. I do not know how much age discrimination goes on at the moment but anything to help get rid of it is good.

This bill is a mixed bag. Surely the government can’t think that removing rights of one group to benefit another is the way to go. Surely not.

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