Large companies in Britain will be forced to publish details of the pay gap between their male and female employees in an attempt to bridge UK’s gender divide, which is one of the worst in Europe.
The pay gap in the UK is the fifth worst in Europe with a 19.7 per cent gap in 2013, according to figures from Eurostat.
British Prime Minister David Cameron wants to create pressure to help drive up women’s wages and close the pay gap between men and women “within a generation”.
“Today I’m announcing a really big move: we will make every single company with 250 employees or more publish the gap between average female earnings and average male earnings.
“That will cast sunlight on the discrepancies and create the pressure we need for change, driving women’s wages up,” he said in an article in ‘The Times’.
“Our aim is to fundamentally rebalance our economy u2013 to transform Britain from a high-welfare, high-tax, low-pay economy into a lower-welfare, lower-tax, higher-pay society,” he added.
His announcement came as the UK government launched an official consultation titled ‘Closing the Gender Gap’ today.
“This consultation seeks views on the government’s manifesto commitment to require larger employers to publish gender pay information,” a statement said.
According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), women earn 0.2 per cent more than men in their 30s, only to fall behind in their 40s when they earn 14 per cent less in hourly wages.
Nicky Morgan, UK education secretary, said: “To achieve gender equality we need to continue to inspire young women and girls so that they can compete with the best in the world for the top jobs u2013 and see that their hard work will pay off.”
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which represents employers, said it preferred a voluntary approach.
CBI director-general Katja Hall said: “While we believe publishing pay gap data could be misleading, we will work with the government to ensure that rules on what is published are flexible enough to be relevant to each company.
“To see real progress, however, we need to challenge occupational stereotypes by encouraging more women into male dominated industries and investing in careers advice.”