The Government’s controversial equality watchdog was last night accused of ‘rank hypocrisy’ for flouting its own policies on fair pay.
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The Equality and Human Rights Commission has angered business leaders by ordering a crackdown on hard-pressed companies that fail to pay the same rates to employees doing similar work.
But official figures show that more than two years after it was set up to stamp out discrimination, the commission is paying its own ethnic minority workers almost ten per cent less than white staff – an embarrassment for its black chairman Trevor Phillips.
And disabled workers at the quango, which employs more than 500 staff, have slipped behind their able-bodied colleagues by nearly nine per cent.
Moreover, the figures show the pay gap for both minority groups has worsened over the past year, and female staff also face pay discrimination compared to male counterparts.
Tory MP Philip Davies, who elicited the pay-gap figures in questions to Women and Equalities Minister Angela Eagle, said: ‘This is rank hypocrisy. They should be ashamed of themselves.
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‘We have the ludicrous situation where the taxpayer-funded body that goes around lecturing everyone else about fair pay is one of the worst offenders themselves.’
The details have emerged after a period of turbulence at the commission, which last summer saw the resignation of six commissioners, criticism of the management style of Mr Phillips and calls for his resignation.
Big Bother: Mr Phillips was paid to help out in the Shilpa Shetty race row
In 2008, The Mail on Sunday revealed that the £112,000-a-year equality chief was paid by Channel 4 to give it advice on the fallout of the Big Brother racism row involving Indian actress Shilpa Shetty, provoking accusations of a conflict of interest.
The EHRC – which received more than £61million from the Government last year – encourages companies to carry out equal-pay audits to compare the earnings of staff doing the same job or similar work that requires equivalent skills, effort and decision-making.
A commission spokesman said: ‘We recognise we should have published these gaps,’ adding that it was now planning to do so within the next few months.
The latest available figures up to the end of October show that the quango is paying 9.66 per cent more to white staff than to ethnic minority staff, 8.9 per cent more to able-bodied than to disabled employees and 3.04 per cent more to men than women.
The commission spokesman said that its salary inequalities were far lower than national averages, while they employed higher than average numbers of women and minority groups.
Referring to the new pay-gap figures, the spokesman said: ‘These gaps are largely due to the process of creating the commission by bringing together three different legacy commissions, each with their own pay and conditions.
‘We are determined to address the issue and we are carrying out a review of our pay and reward systems.’
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