David Cameron has confirmed that the government is going ahead with plans to force large companies to publish information on the gender pay gap among their staff.
The measures, first announced in the run up to April’s general election, will require every U.K. company with more than 250 employees to disclose the difference between the average pay of their male and female employees. This comes as part of Cameron’s grand plan to “end the gender pay gap in a generation,” which, frankly, can’t come soon enough.
A consultation begins next week, which will examine exactly how the pay gap regulations will work, how we can encourage girls into a wider range of careers, how we can help parents back into the workplace and how women of all ages can attain greater job security.
Mr Cameron said the move would “cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up,” reported the BBC.
The new National Living Wage, which starts next April, is also expected to primarily help women, because they tend to have most of the lower-paid jobs.
The news has been welcomed by the other main political parties, but Labour’s Women and Equalities Minister Gloria De Piero pointed out that annual equal pay checks are necessary to ensure that pay transparency makes a “real difference.” Former Lib Dem equalities minister Jo Swinson accused Mr. Cameron of being “unambitious” with their timescale.
Anne Francke, of the Chartered Management Institute, hailed the measures to eliminate the pay gap as a “great, bold step,” but added that specific targets are needed.
Women and Equalities Minister Nicky Morgan admitted to the BBC Radio 4 Today programme a final decision still has to be reached regarding how companies should report the data. She stated that the gender pay gap had “virtually been eliminated” for under 40s working full time, and appealed to businesses for a “real commitment” by setting their own targets.
The government has also announced that a target of getting women into at least a quarter of boardroom seats at the U.K.’s biggest firms by 2015 had been met.
“Businesses recognise the value of having a diverse board that reflects society and their customers. That is why we have reached this important milestone on time,” said Confederation of British Industry deputy director-general Katja Hall. “But we must not let our guard drop. Progress has relied on making sure new appointments are diverse, and this must continue.”