The country’s exit from the European Union could put equal pay laws at risk, a prominent human rights professor has said.
Speaking to the House of Commons Women and Equalities Committee, Kings College London Professor, Aileen McColgan, said that although the UK was a “leader” in areas of equality law, developments on equal pay had been “profoundly driven” by the EU.
She said that without minimum EU standards to abide by, the government could in future try to “lower” the bar.
“My particular concern would be about equal pay, because it’s probably economically rational to pay women as little as you can get away and if you don’t have strong legislative provisions to prevent that, that is one of the areas that could be very problematic.”
Also speaking to MPs, Catherine Barnard, professor of European law at Cambridge University, said it would be difficult for a government to repeal protections against discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation or religion and believe, as it was “so politically sensitive”.
However, she said, age was a “more difficult area” because “exceptionally, discrimination on the grounds of age can be justified”.
She added that if the UK opted for a Norway-style model, and remained a member of the European Economic Area, EU laws would continue to apply.