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Call for papers by the Cambridge Journal of Economics

Call for Papers: Equal Pay: Fair Pay? A forty-year perspective


Guest Editors: Mark Smith (Grenoble Ecole de Management) and Jacqueline O’Reilly (University of Brighton Business School)

CJE Editors: Brendan Burchell and Simon Deakin (Cambridge)

To commemorate the forty years since the implementation of British and European legislation on Equal Pay the CJE will be holding a symposium on the 7-8th June in Cambridge and publishing a Special Issue on the question of Equal Pay: Fair Pay? The deadline for submission of abstracts to participate at the symposium is 1st May 2013. These abstracts should be sent to Mark Smith and Jackie O’Reilly. Travel and hotel costs to attend this symposium will be covered by participants themselves. Participants at this symposium are invited to submit their papers for the Special Issue that will be subject to the journal’s normal peer review process. Authors unable to attend the symposium are also invited to submit their full papers to the journal for peer review by the 20th September 2013 for consideration in the Special Issue.

The context for this special issue marks the significant milestone achievements in 1975 when in the UK the Equal Pay Act (1970) was implemented on the 29 December 1975. The Act came into force after a long and bitter industrial conflict for recognition of equal pay rights by the women workers at the Ford Factory in Dagenham, UK. In the same year the Sex Discrimination Act (1975) sought to prevent sex discrimination in employment more generally. At the European level, Council Directive 75/117/EEC of 10 February 1975 was implemented requiring the approximation of member states’ laws relating to equal pay.

Since this early and hard-fought-for legislation was enacted there has been a growing body of statute, employment tribunal and legal decisions to address anomalies in the initial legislation and broaden and clarify issues around forms of discrimination and recognition of equality. A recent stream of equal pay cases in the UK has resulted in very large compensation payments, as evidenced most recently in the Supreme Court ruling in the UK in October 2012 under which Birmingham City Council estimated their liability to amount to £757m in back pay.

Equal Pay legislation triggered a step change in policy and practice towards gender pay inequalities in the UK and beyond yet despite some early successes and subsequent legislative measures, the stubbornness of the gender pay gap persists. Extensions of equality legislation have also gone beyond the demands for equal pay, to include equal treatment, fair pay and anti-discrimination policies. These issues have been taken up in many countries as exemplified by the Fair Work Act (2009) in Australia, the living wage movement as a focus for migrant workers in the US and the UK, Parité in France and the Equal Pay Day in Germany.

This special issue looks back on these achievements, evaluates the subsequent legislation, its effective implementation and on-going barriers to equal pay. It also seeks to provide an international and comparative perspective on initiatives to implement equality legislation and equal pay
in other countries. It aims to identify the barriers to implementing equal pay and the economic consequences of persistent inequality. The relevance of this topic is particularly evident in a number of prominent contemporary debates about equality and in particular the concept of fairness.

The CJE publishes heterodox and interdisciplinary papers. The special issue would like to encourage theoretical and empirical papers examining the institutionalisation of intersectionality and multiple forms of discrimination, the implications for firms, unions and public sector organisations affected by these changes both in the UK and abroad and the impact of recent austerity measures on women’s achievements in the past 40 years. Topics covered could include:

- Evaluating the impact of the Equal Pay Act 1970 in the UK and/ or European Directives on equal pay and sex discrimination;
- Analysis of subsequent legislation to address pay inequality in the UK and/or abroad;
- International comparative perspectives of initiatives to implement equal pay and an evaluation of their achievements in the context of broader equality policies;
- Evaluation of new forms of regulation and policy initiatives to address gender pay gaps;
- Contextualising the demands for equal pay between men and women in relation to increased income disparities;
- Identifying the drivers that reduce the gender pay gap and the factors that resist its reduction;
- Developments in industrial relations that have addressed issues of inequality at work, of which equal pay is a central issue;
- Current debates about what is considered to be fair about pay, rewards and benefits systems for different groups of workers.

Authors should consult the journal’s requirements.