The Government’s Equality Minister, Harriet Harman, has said she wants to tackle entrenched pay discrimination against women and to create a workforce more representative of society.
Ms Harman defended plans to make it legal for firms to discriminate in favour of female and ethnic minorities job candidates and said firms should be able to choose a woman over a man of equal ability if they want to.
When asked whether the proposals would lead to discrimination against white men, she said companies would not be forced to use positive discrimination.
Female part-time workers still earned 40% less per hour than their full-time male counterparts, Ms Harman said. "Do we think she is 40% less intelligent, less committed, less hard-working, less qualified? It’s not the case. It’s entrenched discrimination. It’s allowed to persist because it’s all swept under the carpet."
The Equalities Bill will also seek to stop people being denied NHS treatment because of their age, and age discrimination will be outlawed in the provision of goods and services, such as holidays and insurance.