We Just Moved One Step Closer To Equal Pay

What this week's vote actually means

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Yesterday, 258 MPs voted against just eight naysayers to bring the UK one step closer to equal pay for men and women.

Ever since ELLE highlighted the pay gap with our award-winning Make Them Pay campaign (below) as part of our Rebranding Feminism issue last year we’ve been calling for this to happen, and those numbers speak for themselves – it’s time for a change.

So, what happened in Parliament yesterday - and what does it mean for you?

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The Vote
Sarah Champion, Labour MP for Rotherham, tabled a ‘Ten Minute Rule Bill’ to enact section 78 of the Equality Act (2010), which requires companies that employ more than 250 people to publish their gender pay gap figures.

Why It Matters
To coincide with the bill, Labour released analysis of figures from the Office of National Statistics that show that women earn an average of £209,976 less than men over a lifetime.

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The gender pay gap is currently 9.4%, which is the lowest since records began in 1997 – progress, but not enough.

Who’s Backing It
Section 78 of the Equality Act was introduced by Labour but abandoned by the coalition when it entered government.

Ed Miliband gave his full backing to yesterday’s vote.

Who’s Not Backing It
Government ministers abstained from the vote.

Seven MPs opposed the bill outright – all of them Conservative MPs (and, incidentally, all of them men). Tory MP for Hendon Matthew Offord formally abstained by voting in both lobbies, making up the eight who were against it.

So, Will We Get Equal Pay?
While there’s no denying that yesterday’s vote was symbolic, a Ten Minute Rule Bill is just the first step, as no details of the actual bill were discussed (MPs only have ten minutes to convince other MPs it's worth debating fully at a later date), so nothing could yet be passed into law.

But the positive thing is that the motion to debate the bill was passed, and it could become law early next year - although it's unlikey to be before the general election due to lack of parliamentary time.

If this outrages you, make a noise – tweet @ELLEUK #MakeThemPay – and get behind our ELLE Feminism campaign here.

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