The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has today 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 (12.8% median) 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 equality watchdog has claimed.
The EHRC is working closely with business groups such a the CBI and the TUC to develop a consistent way to measure the gender pay difference in organisations.
The Equality Bill contains a clause that will enable a future secretary of state to force mandatory reporting in 2013 if not enough organisations have done so on a voluntary basis.
Andrea Murray, acting group director of strategy, said: "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 that suits different organisational structures and builds on the excellent work that is already in place in many businesses."
The EHRC will also undertake a 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.
Earlier today, newspapers reported the government was considering restructuring the EHRC to introduce senior figures onto the board overseeing specific minority groups, effectively watering down chairman Trevor Phillip's power.