UK companies must reveal gender pay gap under new plans

Government proposals will also see new league tables showing which types of companies are the worst offenders

Britain’s banks and other large companies will be made to reveal how much more they award male employees in pay and bonuses, under Government plans to close the gender pay gap and tackle inequality.

Under the proposals, to be enshrined in law, all companies with more than 250 employees must publish their gender pay gap on their websites while new league tables will show which types of companies are the worst offenders.

In addition, around 8,000 of the country’s largest employers will have to publish the number of men and women in each pay range – to make clear where the pay gap is at its worst. Bonuses will also be included in the statistics to ensure firms can’t discriminate “via the back door”, a Government spokeswoman said.

There will also be a new effort to encourage more girls to take maths and sciences at A level. Currently, just 24 per cent of girls take so-called “STEM” subjects, compared to almost four in 10 boys, and the gender pay gap in sectors such as engineering is among the worst across business. 

Equalities groups largely welcomed the package of measures. The Fawcett Society, which campaigns for women’s rights, described the announcement as “the best opportunity in a generation to close the gender pay gap”. However, it said without stronger penalties, those employers who are “doing the right thing” risk being undercut by those who don’t. 

The TUC’s Frances O’Grady wants bosses to be forced to explain pay gaps (AFP/Getty)

The TUC also expressed concern that employers would only have to publish their pay gap stats, not explain them. “If David Cameron is serious about ending the gender pay gap within a generation we need a much bolder approach from ministers,” said its general secretary, Frances O’Grady.

“It is a real shame that bosses won’t be made to explain why pay gaps exist in their workplaces and what action they will take to narrow them. Employers can’t be allowed to treat this as a tick-box exercise,” she said. 

Announcing the plan, Women and Equalities Minister, Nicky Morgan, said the Government wanted to secure “real equality” for women. “In recent years we’ve seen the best employers make ground-breaking strides in tackling gender inequality,” she said. 

“But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace. 

“That’s why I am announcing measures to support women in their careers from the classroom to the boardroom.”

The first league table will be published in 2018, making it possible for women to compare pay in different sectors.