by Tim Lezard The government’s equality body could be in breach of the law it is set up to enforce as it imposes an unfair pay award on its staff, the PCS says. Plans by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to impose a below-inflation 1% rise for 2 …

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, PCS, UK unions,

EHRCby Tim Lezard

The government’s equality body could be in breach of the law it is set up to enforce as it imposes an unfair pay award on its staff, the PCS says.

Plans by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to impose a below-inflation 1% rise for 2013/14 will mean black workers falling even further behind the average pay of their white colleagues.

The move would increase the pay gap based on race from 15.5% to 16.9%. In March 2011, it was 8.36%. The disability pay gap has increased from 6.8% to 7.7% in the same period.

The agency had initially claimed its proposals would decrease these disparities but it has now admitted its calculations were flawed – though it is refusing to reopen negotiations.

PCS vice president and senior EHRC representative Sue Bond has written to EHRC chief executive Mark Hammond to remind him of the legal requirements on public authorities.

The letter states: “It is not clear…that the EHRC has properly discharged its duty under s149 of the Equality Act 2010.

“Section 149, the public sector equality duty (PSED), requires public authorities to have due regard to the three aims of the duty (the need to eliminate discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and foster good relations).”

The 1% rise would amount to up to £1,000 for some senior officials. For most staff it will mean less than the £400 the commission’s chief executive received last year in “additional travel costs” when the London office was relocated 1.6 miles from London Bridge to the City.

The commission also continues to employ several people as ‘non-payroll’ consultants – roles that have previously attracted payments of more than £800 a day.

The union has called for negotiations to be reopened and for EHRC to agree a strategy to close the salary gaps and distribute pay more fairly.

The union’s 150 members at the agency, which has major offices in London and Manchester and nine smaller sites around the UK, are taking non-strike industrial action from this week. Protests will be held outside offices today.

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It is staggering that the body responsible for enforcing equality law appears happy to ride roughshod over it when it comes to its own staff.

“These negotiations must be reopened immediately so that we can properly tackle unfair and discriminatory pay at the commission.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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