Large companies will be legally required to publish the difference between what they pay men and women under manifesto plans set out by the Liberal Democrats today. The plan would see companies employing over 250 people required by law to publish the average pay of their male and female employees - creating pressure from staff and customers to account for and close any gap that exists.
The plan was announced by Liberal Democrat Leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Minister for Women and Equalities Jo Swinson and the Business Secretary, Vince Cable.
The Liberal Democrats will put into force Section 78 of the Equalities Act, which was drafted but not implemented by the previous Labour Government. The Coalition Government has encouraged leading employers to publish pay gap information on a voluntary basis but the Liberal Democrats believe that it is time to go further. The Liberal Democrats are the first major party to commit to enforcing gender pay transparency by law.
Commenting, Nick Clegg said: "Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed it is utterly unacceptable that women are not being equally rewarded in the workplace - with women paid, on average, 20% less than men. Real equality means fair pay. It's time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough. We need to lift the lid on what big companies pay the men and women they employ, with that information there for every employee and customer to see."
Jo Swinson added: "The Liberal Democrats have fought for shared parental leave, extra childcare, a new right to request flexible working, and we are determined to tackle the issue of gender pay. If women in the workplace are to have the same opportunities and choices as men, they must be properly rewarded for their talents and skills - it's as simple as that."
Vince Cable commenting said: "We're consulting with business to make sure we get the detail right, but ultimately this is a good step for our companies. We've already seen some of our biggest firms lead the way on publishing pay gap information. They know that their staff will appreciate real openness about the way men and women are paid and real effort to close any gap that exists."