back to article Small biz slams Harman's equal ops law

David Frost, boss of the British Chamber of Commerce, has attacked the government for heaping employment law red tape onto a business community already suffering from the credit crunch. Frost called for a three year moratorium on new regulation, and said British small businesses didn't need handouts but did need to be left …


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  1. Joel Stobart

    Small business vs 250 people

    I would put companies with 250+ people firmly into the medium category myself.

    - Joel

  2. Tony


    I believe that clauses in contracts that forbid employees from discussing what they earn should be considered unlawful as they prevent employees and unions from identifying if there is pay discrimination going on (for whatever reason).

    I do however question Ms Harman's figures. On the one hand she seems to be saying that because of current contract law you cannot effectively benchmark salaries, but on the other she keeps throwing around figures like 'women earn 20% less than men in the same role'. If you cannot benchmark the salaries how are you calculating that Ms Harman? The only possible measure I can see is the arbitrary 'total amount of tax paid' which takes no account of length of time in a job, hours worked etc etc.

    In general I would welcome a change to the law to force more transparancy in pay, but on a personal level I really object to the Governments continuous insistance on throwing around pointless and meaningless statistics to try to convince people of things.

  3. Jess
    Thumb Down

    Firms with 251 - 270 employees

    might be tempted to avoid this by redundancies.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    will go down in history as the worse things that has happened to this country, since the Roman occupation, and that probably wasn't that bad.

    Move the UK debt to all Labour party members and their families, problem sorted, they wanted to spend this money and get nothing back, they can pay it off.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I wonder.

    How does she work out there is a bias on wages ?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Equal Pay for Equal Job

    I believe in equal pay, as long as the woman is doing the exactly the same job and not just having the same job title.

  7. Jimmy Floyd

    @AC: 09:36

    "...the worse things that has happened to this country, since the Roman occupation..."

    All right, but apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, a fresh water system, and public health ... what have the Romans ever done for us? :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Over Reaction

    Additional burden?

    FFS how had is it to calculate an average? You don't expect me to belive that any company with 250 staff hasn't got it's salaries in a spreadsheet compatible form somewhere already.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    All equal!

    Blah, we will all be equally unemployed and equally watching the fat MP's stuffing their faces and laughing at us.

    Scum who I used to ignore but now seem to be able to tell me how to live my life!

  10. Jonathan Carlaw
    Thumb Down


    So, if you work in a company with 250+ empolyees, the longer term aim is to ensure equal pay for men and women.

    So if you have a department with 8 men, then hire 1 man and 1 woman, the woman can demand to be paid the average of the 8 men, but you can hire the man at a lower level...

    That seems fair and reasonable.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Positively Discriminated

    Harmon and the rest of the NuLabor 'babes'(sic) are a prime example of the damage caused by so called positive discrimination. Smith, Jowell, Cooper, Hewett, and that chippy little ginger one - what a useless bunch......

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Here we go...

    ... businesses have had decades to get their pay structures sorted out so that they weren't underpaying one sector of their workforce and overpaying the other, so no surprise to hear them whinge like the bitches they are when the government finally decides to actually do something real about the issue. There has never been any excuse for companies to underpay their female staff just because they were female and if companies had sorted themselves out a lot fucking sooner, then this would have been completely unecessary legislation. Who cares if some of these companies now go under - they weren't worthy of being in business anyway.

    I'm with the earlier poster - everyone's pay should be out there in the open, like it is in the public sector (or at least, academia which is where my own experience lies). If you know what band someone is in, then you know what pay they are getting. End of story. You work to increase the band you are in, you get higher pay.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    average salary - be a bit more specific

    You would have to do the average for each role or the results are meaningless. where i work there are hundreds, if not thousands of women working for minimum wage in the call centres, there are men there but it is a massively female dominated area.

    However, the IT department i'm in is pretty much 50:50 male/female. The call centre would pull down the female average salary, even if women were paid more for the same role due to the sheer numbers of staff employed there.

    the board of directors will make the results meaningless too, all it takes is one person, male or female, to be paid several million a year and that will pretty much invalidate the results of the rest of the staff. In the same way that you need to quote average salaries both inside and outside of london, due to the huge disparity.

  14. Anonymous Coward

    Everyone wins

    The larger the staff the greater the inequality in pay, not because of discrimination, but the the general crapness of HR departments. This legislation protects any employee (especially in the current climate) were their pay is being frozen while the same role in a different department is seeing a rise.

    The left hand doesn't know what the right hand is scratching.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Harman... wot a name!

    More like Harwoman. It is no coincidence that she is called "Harperson" in Westminster circles.

    This stupid politician is more interested in her agenda than what is good for the UK during this crisis time for everyone - well maybe not everyone as the politicians have their snots in the trough!

    Easily solution to this... if there are five woman.... sack one of them and give her salary to the others. Receipe for redundancy and joblessness.

  16. Anonymous Coward

    cash for old bangers

    "Clarke also said he had doubts about the government's "cash for bangers" scheme"

    He's not the only one. I fail to see why taxpayers should subsidise a handout for getting a new car.

  17. michael

    an avrage pay?

    so what sort of average and Shirley that is never going to come out the same all it takes is for most of the heir ups to be male (and that usuley happens cos woman take time out for children sorry it is true) and the average will be off despite pepol in the same job being paid the same

  18. David Hicks

    Audits, whatever

    It's the positive discrimination aspects that scare me. She's quoted as saying a business should be able to hire a woman over a man because they want more women in the workforce and avoid being sued under gender discrimination laws.

    Sorry but WTF happened to the best person for the job?

    I bet this %&*£$*& of a woman would have some way of weaseling out of it in cases (like teaching and nursing) where men are under-represen

  19. Coruscating Frenzy

    @Equal Pay for Equal Job

    I know this might sound heretical, possibly blasphemous, and undoubtedly a case of "political correctness gone mad", but I wonder just how many people have considered the possibility that the woman with the same job title as you might be doing it better, faster and/or to a higher quality than you?

    Maybe I need to lie down in a darkened room until the nice doctors come with my medicine.

  20. Tony

    @Jimmy Floyd

    ..Alright, but apart from generating the biggest national debt in history, getting us involved in an illegal war, erroding pretty much all our civil liberties, increasing taxes, decreasing public spending, making us an international laughing stock, spending all our money on spying on us and giving new meaning to the term 'hypocrite'... what had New Labour ever done for us?

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Great, more backwards thinking...

    I fail to see how publishing the average salaries of all male and female staff will display "inequality" between the sexes because salaries ARE worked out based on the employees performance, experience and time spent with the company, NOT what bits you have at the top of your legs.

    Also, despite the obvious possibility of disproportionately raising Females salaries to make up the numbers which will only cause divide between the sexes, once companies fiddle things so they have what is perceived as a good ratio, they will be least likely to employ Males or Females depending on how things sit.

    Actually, this is a massive backwards step away from equality between sexes and an eye opening demonstration of blinkered thinking by our Government.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Coruscating Frenzy

    But what if she isn't doing the same job ie lifting, moving equipment the same as you but still getting the same pay as you.

  23. Pat

    Title says it all

    Harman is the Minister for Equality and Women.

    So not simply the Minister for Equality then?

  24. Damien Thorn

    I refuse to work by it.

    Equal opps is just another method of segregation.

    When im hiring someone I want them to A be able to do the job, B be near enough they can actually get to work, and if there going to be late that i can shout down the phone at them to get there lazy ass out of bed. I treat all my staff the same they can either do the job or cant.

    Woman X gets 10,895 per annum

    Man Y gets 21,394 per annum and a company car

    Man R gets 17,500 per annum

    Woman S gets 16,000 per annum

    woman T gets 15,500 per annum

    OH no im discriminating - hang on no im not wait - woman X answers my phones, man Y is my shop manager. R & S have worked for me for 3/6 years, woman T has worked 1 year with no long term bonuses Phew.

    they work hard so i can sit here commenting on the world lol, and like every business the longer you work for me the more you will get paid, so any published list is going to make everyone look like there discriminating. I cant be bothered hiring new staff every 2 months, so i reward the loyal ones, the highest earner in my house is my wife, i only earn the money on paper and as a deposit into the bank - shes the one who actually gets the money and spends it.

    BTW harriet harmon should publish how many shoes the employees have, all mine have 2 every day - no discrimination there.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @ Here we go

    You state:

    "If you know what band someone is in, then you know what pay they are getting. End of story. You work to increase the band you are in, you get higher pay."

    If you are in a "band" of pay and someone else is in the same "band" of pay are you 100% sure you KNOW EXACTLY what they are getting? If so what is the purpose of the "bands"?

    I am currently a band 8 emloyee where I work but I am paid at almost the maximum for that "Band"

    My wife works for the same company and is a band 7 (it's an American company so band 7 is better than band 8) and she is paid close to the lowest pay for that band (quick, that's discrimination that is!)

    The result? we are on different pay bands but earn within a couple of hundred quid of each other. Pay bands are not the same as equal pay (yes we do the same job, she has been there longer than me)

  26. This post has been deleted by its author

  27. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Equal job, equal pay

    Bah! It isn't a question of "same job, same pay." You can't tell how good someone is by their gender or job title. I've worked in places where everyone gets the "senior analyst" title, regardless of how good they actually are. I would expect some difference in pay to reflect actual skills however.

    Yes I've seen hideous and unjustified discrimination, but its usually based on "what we can get away with paying this person" rather than a decision to "pay the women less."

    There may be discrimination, but statistics aren't going to give you a picture of what's really happening or a reasonable means to discover a solution.

    Another rubbish attempt at "government by database."

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No offense.

    But the problem with women is that they tend to get pregnant. Whilst the act of getting pregnant isn't wrong, per se, It's kind of a pain for a small business to pay a woman for a year in which she doesn't actually attend work. So they pay them less to cover the costs of this potential event. It's really not rocket science. I know they don't have to give them full pay the whole time, but it's still far more money than they actually earn.

  29. Sarah Bee (Written by Reg staff)

    Re: No offense.

    Well, if women didn't get pregnant there wouldn't be a workforce in the future. I know it's long-long-long-term thinking, but society kind of has to suck it up if it wants to survive.

    However, many women never get pregnant at all, so it's a leedle unfair to penalise them just because they have the equipment, isn't it?

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