Government denies rewriting Equality Bill to expose private sector pay gaps

The government has dismissed as “nonsense” speculation that it is rewriting the draft Equality Bill to force private sector employers to publish gender pay statistics.

Last year’s draft Bill only required public sector employers and those private firms bidding for state work to publish statistics on gender pay differences.

But it was reported last week that the Equalities Office was drawing up a clause that would require firms to detail the number of men and women they have in each pay band.

A government spokeswoman said: “It is nonsense to suggest that the Government Equalities Office is writing amendments to an unpublished Bill.”

She added: “The government is committed to tackling the gender pay gap. We are working with the Equality and Human Rights Commission, businesses and unions on proposals to increase transparency in the workplace, for example, by banning secrecy clauses which prevent people from discussing their pay. This will stop pay inequality remaining hidden and untouchable.”

The gender pay gap increased to 17.1% last year, according to official analysis of average full-time hourly earnings.

But employers remain insistent that bringing in reporting duties would fail to tackle the causes of inequality.

Neil Carberry, the head of employment policy at the CBI, said: “Forcing companies to reveal meaningless statistics will not tackle the real causes of gender inequality. The key cause of the pay gap is occupational segregation.”

The Equality Bill was in December’s Queen’s Speech and is expected to pass through Parliament soon.

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