Caroline Lucas is to call for measures to tackle the gender pay gap.

18 March 2009

Businesses should be forced to pay men and women employees equally ... and laws must be changed to help women take equal pay cases to court, so says the Green MEP for the South East.

Caroline Lucas will propose a motion on workplace equality at the Party's spring conference in Blackpool.

Women working fulltime in the UK are paid 17% less than men. And according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission's "Sex and Power 2008" survey, the percentage of female directors has stalled at 11%.

To help tackle this, the new Green policy would require:

• Medium and large companies to do equal pay audits that compare the earnings of their employees, and to take action to redress inequalities.

• Legal changes to make it much easier for women to take equal pay cases to court, and to allow women to take such cases as a group, with the support of their unions.

• Significant funding to be put into encouraging girls and women to consider a broader range of careers.

• The law to follow Norway's in requiring that companies listed on the Stock Exchange have 40% of their board members being female within five years of the date of the passing of the legislation.

A separate motion intended to improve women's rights in the UK would ensure major improvements in NHS pre- and post-natal care, including a full range of birth options and the right to a single midwife throughout.

Other motions on women's issues will include:

• A motion to help combat domestic abuse, starting with "respect" training in schools.

• A motion to extend the right to asylum for women and girls, to include asylum for those who would be forced to undergo forced marriage or genital mutilation were they denied asylum.


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