The Equality and Human Rights Commission has launched a consultation on how private and voluntary sector employers with at least 250 staff can measure and report on their gender pay gap.
Women working full-time currently earn 17.1% less per hour on average than men, with the gap failing to improve in the past three years. The difference in some sectors such as finance, are much wider and the majority of organisations are not aware of their own gender pay gap.
The Commission believes that developing ways for employers to measure and report on their gender pay gap will be a crucial step towards reducing pay inequity by providing greater transparency.
The Commission is working closely with the business sector, including the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and with the Trades Union Congress (TUC), to develop a consistent way to measure the gender pay difference in organisations.
The aim is to empower private and voluntary sector employers to report on a voluntary basis, but the Equality Bill does contain a reserve power which, if a future Secretary of State chose to use, could lead to mandatory reporting if progress has not been made on a voluntary basis by 2013. The Commission has outlined a range of possible approaches and looks forward to receiving input from a wide range or employers.
Andrea Murray, the acting group director of strategy at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “There is demand from the public for organisations to build their reputation on transparency and sharing information. The way they reward their staff should be fair, and seen to be fair.
“It is a waste of talent, and it is unjust, that forty years after the Equal Pay Act we still live in a society where for every pound earned by our sons, our daughters will take home less than 85 pence.
“The reasons for the pay gap are complex so the Commission will be gathering views from employers on what could work best for their organisations in terms of measuring and reporting information. In particular, we want to hear from employers who have been monitoring their gender pay gap and have made moves to address it.
“Working with a wide range of employers, we aim to develop a framework which suits different organisational structures and builds on the excellent work that is already in place in many businesses.”
The Commission will also undertake a baseline survey to find out how many business and voluntary employers are already measuring their gender pay gap. The information gathered will be used to measure the rate of improvement over time.
The consultation will close on 28 October 2009.