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David Cooper

“Some of you were also concerned that our proposal to extend the right to request flexible working is burdensome too.”

I’m far from impressed by the defence of this proposal. The “right to request” removes an employer’s principal right to insist upon a contract being honoured, and places a legislative burden upon him to justify any refusal after spending time and resources considering it. Fear of a tribunal claim in which the employee has little to lose (no need to resign to pursue any action of this kind) may lead to capitulation being seen as the lesser evil, with the risk of harm to the business not only from lost direct productivity but also resentment on the part of employees in no position to take similar advantage.

Yes, it’s undeniable that many employers would respond positively, but over the last ten years we have had a disturbing trend of common sense practice in the workplace being supplemented and replaced by legislative force. This is no time to propose any more of that. Is it too much to hope for someone to champion the case for the liberation of small business from the weight of employment legislation?

Jennifer Roberts

Thank you Theresa for that explanation. Like many of the people on this site (I suspect), I don't get time to read all the party's policies in detail and to be honest I wasn't sure about what I read on Monday. But this all seems fair and far more thoughtful than just hitting employers.

Incidentally, this is the first time I've posted on Conservative Home because I'm so sick of all the negativity. Come on guys, we're on the same side!

James Maskell

"It’s not about aiming for an undesirable and impossible equality of outcome – it’s about offering equitable legal treatment and equality of opportunity".

But that is what you want. You want equality of outcome, otherwise you wouldnt be calling for equal pay. Equality of opportunity exists, in that the only restriction to someones employment is their qualifications. Employment tribunals allow equitable legal treatment.

"I will not champion women’s rights at the expense of men’s rights"

Women2Win is an example of that in practice then? If you believe in equality of opportunity, then you will join the vast majority of members in opposing the flawed and discriminatory A-List process for selecting parliamentary candidates.

This response isnt good enough.

Moral minority

Theresa is too vague on key points

"A new ‘reasonableness’ test for the ‘material factor’ defence" - what does this mean? It could have been written by Sir Humphrey.

"New measures to help women into work and up the careers ladder" - is this another taxpayer funded programme or another costly burden on employers?

"Support for young women to make broader and more ambitious career choices" - is this another taxpayer funded programme or another costly burden on employers?

Employers will fear that they will be subjected to more politically-correct regulation and interference.

I would tend to believe Theresa more if she had not been so active in promoting discrimination against men in the selection of Parliamentary candidates.

Male candidates on the Approved List had a much higher odds of making the Priority List than women.

The first winnable position (non-MEP) on each regional list for the European Elections will go to the first woman, even if she has been been beaten by several men.

These are prime examples of the Candidates Department championing women's rights at the expense of men's rights.

Mrs May is on the Candidates Committee, dominated by her cronies, e.g. Shireen Ritchie, in Women2Win.

Frankly, given her past form, I do not trust her to stand up for men's rights. She has an anti-men agenda.


The suggestion that Compulsary Pay Audits would only happen to companies found guilty of discrimination is rubbish.

Many pieces of legislation have been brought in over the years intended to apply only to certain areas but are steadily extended until they apply to all.

Having worked as a management accountant in the manufacturing sector for the last 15 years I can assure you that business has to spend a great deal of time and money doing unwanted and unnecessary work on behalf of the government, for which we receive neither gratitude or recompense.

The conservative party should be supporting smaller government not extending it into more and more of our lives.

Perhaps if more of the Conservative party leadership had experience in wealth creation and were not professional politicians with little experience of the outside world they would not see government intervention as the answer to every problem.

Frank Upton

James, so you think that employment tribunals = equitable treatment? I assume you also believe that the fact that murder is illegal means it never happens?

Unlike many of you, I bothered to read the paper - it's on conservatives.com. It's actually a soundly conservative way to deal with a problem that matters to people.

I rather suspect that most of your objections are down to the fact that you don't want women in the workplace. Well wake up - it's the 21st century.

Take IRJ Milne's point - "men need more pay to support families". Hilarious. Why isn't the same true for women? And what about the businesses that employ them? Should they pay a surcharge for men?

James Maskell

Frank, the new Equality Act provides even more legislation to enforce equality in the workplace and employment tribunals are a form of redress. Your comparison to murder is a little bit wide of the mark, I suspect.

As for your comment regarding not wanting women in the workplace, thats complete rubbish. I have no problems with it as long as we are all competing on the same playing field. The problem comes when the poltiical classes get obsessed with equality of outcome. The Conservatives have said its not about equality of outcome, its about empowerment, but that in itself is arguing for a skewing of competition in that we need to give people special treatment. If we believe in competition then we need to stay away from this insane equality of outcome premise.

The use of the term "21st Century" to justify proposals is curious. Did the world suddenly change at the Millenium? I didnt feel much different.

David Strauss

What Theresa does not understand is the effect of implementing policies 4 and 5 will be clear unequivocal discrimination against men.

Positive discrimination means negative discrimination for someone else, and discrimination is discrimination.

Policy 4 says help for women to climb the career ladder, what about if you are a man (especially if you are in the same company, same age, same talent etc), why should you be denied that help just because you are a man.

Policy 5 on broader career choices for women. Why deny those opportuntites to men?

Anti-male discrimination run all the way through this.

The problem is, Theresa uses the PC group mentality which lumps everyone into a group and they are all treated as if they are the same. They are not. They are individuals first, their gender is secondary.


I have always thought Theresa was good at the local stuff, at dinners and events she is great.

But as a spokesman for the Party she seems to have a permanent Kamikaze headband:

The nasty Party speech

Trying to justify the nasty Party speech to the very people she insulted the previous year

To the endless rubbish about the discriminatory A list, which has done more to damage the carees of potential black and Women MPs than almost anything else..

To her frightened, defensive, abject performances on Question time , newsnight etc

She is an intelligent woman but lacks the head for heights required in the shadow cabinet.

This policy of using private companies for social engineering - they are a bad set of proposals and should never see the light of day again

Chad Noble

Does Theresa believe that the sex of a parent should be immaterial in a custody case?

Does Theresa believe that men should have an equal period of retirement as women (average life expectancy minus retirement age)?


(my earlier post was deleted at my request, as its first point was a misunderstanding).

Mr. Upton: I wrote earlier that "men need more pay to support families". I wrote this quite consciously in support of the traditional structure of British society, which Theresa May apparently doesn't care for.

What's so special about the 21st century that British society cannot exist in it? There's little more reason for a drastic social revolution now than between the 20th and 21st Dynasties in Egypt.

Left to their own devices, people have arranged themselves in certain patterns which created a stable and orderly society, which Toryism has always supported. We should still support this sort of society, not "empower" people to rebel against it.

Theresa May's point that people should be able to do what they like is a Liberal, rather than a Conservative, point.

And how points 4 and 5 don't amount to social engineering I have no idea.

Fox Muldaur


Sean Fear

Thank you for responding, Mrs. May.

Unfortunately, I'm not reassured.

Point 1 may only apply to those companies found to have discriminated. We already have laws that are weighted against employers, in that the burden of proof is on the defendant to prove they haven't discriminated. Given this, I'm not convinced it is reasonable to impose such an obligation on an employer, unless perhaps they have behaved outrageously.

Point 2. I'm not an expert on employment law, but if this makes it even easier to bring claims than at present, then this can only be considered an additional handicap to businesses.

Point 3. This is unreasonable, as the onus is on the employer to justify not allowing flexible working. Again, this makes claims against the employer much easier. Why can't an employer be entitled to rely on the terms of the contract with the employee?

Point 4 is vague, but I'd say the onus is on potential employees to help themselves into jobs, and up the career ladder, rather than relying on government.


Mrs May's answer suggests that she does not really believe in free market economics.
If women are worth equal pay, free market economics dictates that they will get it.
As it is, the market factors in the fact that women take maternity leave, that they are mainly less ambitious and less concilliatory and thus less suited to the top jobs.
As any banker will tell you, the market doesn't lie.

many of the sexism cases brought in the city are blatant opportunism on the part of the complainant. A recent one involving Merrill Lynch (an important american bank) was brough by a woman whose whole family works there ,which is partly why she rose so high. When people realised that she was rubbish, she was sacked.She then laughably tried to sue the pants off them for sexism, and got histerical support from the press.

I used to think that the whole point of the conservative party was that we were no-nonsense pro-armed forces free-marketeers, battling to make sure the press kept a sense of proportion.
But now I am starting to believe that we are nothing more than a vehicle for the promotion of people like Ms May.

Graeme Archer

Evidence of a difference between the average pay of men and the average pay of women is not evidence that women are discriminated against more frequently than are men. This is basic inductive logic, no?

Since it is completely illegal to pay someone with an XY chromosome a different amount of money than you pay someone with an XX one, for the same job, we must examine all the plausible hypotheses and decide which one is most supported by the evidence.

H1: The whole of society is happily suppressing women at work, in some sort of weird conspiracy with no rational foundation.

H2: Some women do not prioritise their career in their work-life balance choices.

H3: Some jobs are more attractive to the different genders, and by chance the average pay in those job categories differ.

... or some union of some of these, or other unspecified H.

I don't see how the evidence of a "pay gap" means I should select H1 over H2. At all. If you call the pay gap evidence "e", then I would say that Pr(e | H1) = Pr(e | H2) = r, say. Since I would give more weight a priori to H2 over H1, it follows that the H2 is more plausible than is H1, given r. Though note that r has not affected my a priori ranking. If you believe H1 more plausible than H2 before the evidence r, you will still do so afterwards. Therefore evidence of a pay gap is not evidence for (or against) sex discrimation.

H3 - which is quite plausible - is an hypothesis with terms which are, in stats-speak, 'confounded'. If H3 is true, and you merely examine the average pay of women and men, then the difference may be driven by the confounded variable (job category). An observational experiment - no matter how clever the survey methodology - cannot unconfound these terms. The only way to scientifically test for H3 vs ~H3 would be to force women and men to apply for every possible job category in equal numbers - perhaps this is one of the Tory proposals? -and measure their pay after x years.

I really - truly - do think that we should develop policies that will make it easier for couples with children to work less at the office, without suffering career disadvantage. Parents in total work *far* harder and for *far* longer than I do, and are engaged in an activity which all of us benefit from. It is absolutely correct for the party to develop 'family friendly' policies.

But I am angry at the (male)sex discrimination which is implicit in suggesting that "e" implies H1 to be true - that women are some sort of fragile breed which can't get on in offices without a hand from the government, or that I as a male manager must be part of some vast patriarchal conspiracy to keep them down. I'm afraid I call such notions rubbish, even if they are not spelled out explicitly within any proposal, and have to be inferred.

I do not ask much from my party. I do request, however, that it develops policy from evidence, and that it combines that evidence with policy hypotheses in a manner consistent with the rules of the probability calculus. This is not some geek getting nerdy. Statisticians say that inference which breaks those rules is incoherent - we chose the word with care - because sooner or later the holder of the hypothesis will be made to look a fool by evidence which flatly contradicts it.

Moral minority


Simon Denis

Well said, Graeme Archer. If I may add my own objection to Mrs May's "explanation" it is that I find her reference to "invisible" discrimination sinister. If it cannot be seen, it cannot be demonstrated. It has to be assumed, like the diabolic possession of a witch. The essence of the issue remains what it always was: the so-called pay gap is the upshot of the different imperatives which inescapably govern the lives of men and women. To seize on the fact that generally men obtain more money than women as evidence of "invisible" discrimination is no more rational than the witch-finder's use of swine fever to assert the presence of witchcraft.

Conservative Homer

I would wonder what teresa may would make of the pay discrepancy between female footballers and male footballers. I dare say woman put just as much effort into their game as men, probably more in a lot of cases, and do basically the same job. Are we to have Wimbledon Style pay equalisation? Anything less would be discrimination surely, and require government intervention to correct it presumably.

Or would that be exempt. Its only less glamorous boring offices that will have to do the form filling?

Sean Fear

Very well, said, Graeme. Inequality of outcome and unfairness are not one and the same, whatever fashionable opinion suggests.


.....firefighter, sewer worker, timber worker, fisherman, trucker, carpenter, auto mechanic, electrical powerline installer, oil rig worker, welder, crane operator, soldier in Iraq....

When women are doing 50% of the above 'dirty' jobs then the 'pay gap' will shrink significantly.

My dentist is a female doctor, I wonder if her bill for dental work is lower than those of male doctors. I do not think so.

The convenience store next our door belongs to a female, I did not notice that she is selling her items cheaper than a male store-owner, what about more ladies being self-employed?

BTW, I failed so far to notice any female employer to pay more to female employees than a male employer...


Who will champion mens rights ?

There is not a Minister for Men , or a Shadow Minister for Men. Why not ?

Is that not equality ?

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