Published on Press Association, April 26, 2009.
Ministers will resist pressure to water down equal pay legislation in the face of the recession, Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman made clear.
Business groups have warned that the Equality Bill, being published by Ms Harman, will impose extra financial and bureaucratic burdens on companies at a time when many are struggling to stay afloat.
Particular concern has been raised over a new requirement for firms employing more than 250 staff to publish an equal pay audit showing disparities between male and female employees.
But Ms Harman said that action to tackle the gender pay gap and improve equality will help foster a sense that “we are all in this together” during the recession and will help Britain’s recovery from the downturn.
She told Sky News’ Sunday Live: “There are people who say the quest for equality is a luxury that we should only do in good times and let’s put it on the back-burner now.
“But when times are hard, I think people will feel better if they think we are all in it together. I think that’s the worst time to be facing unfairness, prejudice and discrimination.
“So I think there is no excuse for having unfairness when times are difficult” … (full text).