Big companies will be forced to publish the size of bonuses for male and female employees under a new government drive to eliminate the gender pay gap.
The prime minister will also extend plans to make firms publish their salaries to the public sector and “work with business to eliminate all-male boards in the FTSE 350”. The announcements, made this weekend, follow David Cameron’s pledge in July to “end the gender pay gap in a generation”.
That gap currently stands at 19.1% for full- and part-time workers in the UK, meaning that a woman on average earns around 80p for every £1 earned by a man.
Although at a historical low, Britain still has the sixth-highest pay gap in the EU, behind countries including Italy and Poland.
Downing Street said the initiatives were part of wider plans, which will be set out this week to help women and black and minority ethnic groups. Earlier this year, business hit the 25% target for women on boards set by government adviser Lord Davies. He is now preparing to release his final report on women on boards, which will outline his final recommendations.
Cameron said: “You can’t have true opportunity without equality. There is no place for a pay gap in today’s society and we are delivering on our promises to address it.”
The minister for women and equalities, Nicky Morgan, said that it “should appal us all” that discrimination in pay continued to exist. Morgan, who is also the education secretary, said: “Governing as one nation means ensuring everyone is given a fair shot to succeed, regardless of their gender. That’s why, from the opportunities women are given in school to the ability to move up the executive pipeline, we are determined to tackle the barriers to women achieving their all.
“Business has made huge amounts of progress already in recent years – the gender pay gap is the lowest since records began, but it should appal us all that, 100 years on from the Suffragette movement, we still don’t have gender equality in every aspect of our society.
“That’s why I’m delighted that we are going further than ever before to ensure true gender equality in the workplace.”Responding to the announcement the TUC general secretary, Frances O’Grady, said the demands for mandatory reporting of pay should be extended beyond larger companies.
She said: “Publishing information on gender pay gaps in salaries and bonuses is a start. But it is just that – a start. Employers need to look at why women are still being paid less than men and do something meaningful about it. If the prime minister is serious about ending the pay gap within a generation he must not delay mandatory pay gap reporting and should extend the law to medium-size companies.”