HC Deb 20 December 1974 vol 883 c638W
Mrs. Wise

asked the Secretary of State for Employment if he will make a statement about the directive on equal pay agreed at the Council of EEC Ministers of Social Affairs on 17th December.

Mr. John Fraser

The purpose of the directive is to approximate the legislative and administrative provisions of the member States of the Community dealing with equal pay for equal work or for work to which equal value is attributed.

In general the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the Equal Pay Act (Northern Ireland) 1970 enable the United Kingdom to comply with the directive. However, the directive does contain a requirement that workers should be protected against dismissal if they claim equal pay. The unfair dismissals provisions of the Trade Union and Labour Relations Act 1974 substantially meet this requirement in Great Britain, but there are a number of cases —e.g., that of certain part-time workers, where they do not apply. As stated in paragraph 75 of the White Paper "Equality for Women", the Government have been considering the need to include in the Sex Discrimination Bill a provision which would make it unlawful to treat persons less favourably on the ground that they had made a complaint about unlawful discrimination. The Government have now decided that such a provision is necessary in the Bill and that it should also apply to complaints about equal pay. Appropriate legislative proposals will be introduced in respect of Northern Ireland.

The directive is not intended to apply to pensions. The problems of applying the principle of equality to occupational pensions and the social security pensions which they complement are to be the subject of a later study.

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