Some of the largest accounting firms have welcomed a new law that hopes to reduce differences between how much men and women are paid.
Companies that fail to address pay differences between male and female workers will be named in new league tables under plans announced by the government. Those with more than 250 employees will be required to reveal their pay gap.
The regulations will affect 8,000 employers in the UK, the government said.
Employers will need to start calculating the pay gap from April 2017 – one year before the first tables being published.
Women in the UK still earn on average 20% less than men, according to official figures.
Companies will have to publish the number of men and women in each pay range – to highlight where the pay gap is biggest and needs to be tackled.
Every employer must publish their gender pay gap on their website. Companies will have to report every year, and senior executives will be expected to personally sign this off.
“In recent years we’ve seen the best employers make ground breaking strides in tackling gender inequality,” said Nicky Morgan, Minister for Women and Equalities. "But the job won’t be complete until we see the talents of women and men recognised equally and fairly in every workplace.”
David Sproul, senior partner and chief executive at Deloitte UK, said: “Being able to access information about a company’s gender pay gap will enable people to make better informed decision about potential employers, while companies will also be able to consider gender pay when selecting suppliers.”
Deloitte’s gender pay gap in 2015 was 17.8%, he said.
By 2020, Deloitte wants one quarter of its partners to be women, and 30% by 2030.
Gaenor Bagley, head of people and executive board member at PwC, said that the new law shouldn't be about naming and shaming organisations but “using the gender pay gap analysis to understand why they have a gap in the first place and coming up with actions to solve the gap.”
She said that the government needs to be clear about the information companies need to report so that "useful comparisons can be made across sectors and companies."
The Confederation of British Industry said that the data would only give a partial picture on differences between men and women employees’ salaries due to factors such as the “mix of part-time and full [time] working and sectoral differences.”