The majority of employers have no plans to check they pay women fairly, despite the fact that the gap between women's and men's average pay has hardly closed in recent years, a new report shows.
The research, carried out for the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) by the Institute for Employment Studies, also reveals that secrecy about pay is still widespread. More than a fifth of employers (22 per cent) do not allow employees to share information about their pay with colleagues.
The gap between women's and men's average full-time pay is still 19 per cent per hour. Women who work part-time earn 41 per cent less per hour than men who work full-time - the same gap as 25 years ago.
Commenting on the findings, Julie Mellor, chair of the EOC, warned that complacency and secrecy were threatening to halt progress on equal pay and urged all employers to review their pay systems for bias.
Two years ago one of the EOC Equal Pay Taskforce's key recommendations was that all employers should review their pay systems to check they were not biased against women. That call was backed by the Government.
However, the research - published today at the EOC's Equal Pay Conference - reveals that only 18 per cent of large employers and 10 per cent of medium-sized employers have actually done a pay review or are in the process of doing one. The majority (54 per cent of large and 67 per cent of medium-sized employers) do not plan to do a pay review at all.
Mellor added: "The level of complacency and secrecy this research has uncovered is staggering. Employers have a crucial role to play in tackling unequal pay. Although some have accepted that responsibility willingly, many others still don't seem to have got the message."
Patricia Hewitt, secretary of state for trade and industry and minister for women, said: "This research reveals a depressing snapshot that shows too many workplaces are still stacked against women fulfilling their true earning potential. But it also makes me more determined to keep on working with the EOC, employers and unions to close the pay gap.
"Businesses should not be afraid of pay audits, because treating - and paying - men and women equally can only improve a company's performance in