A clause in the Act made it possible for the Government to require all employers with more than 250 staff to report their gender pay gap from 2013.
However, this measure has been dropped and the Government is instead encouraging employers to publish the differences in pay between male and female employees on a voluntary basis.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone explained that it was necessary to take a more flexible approach to gender pay audits as different organisations face different challenges in promoting equality.
“We want to move away from the arrogant notion that government knows best, to one where government empowers individuals, businesses and communities to make change happen,” she said.
Featherstone also announced that the Government will enact recruitment measures that will allow employers to make their organisations more representative by allowing them to choose a candidate from a group that is under-represented when faced with two or more candidates of equal measure.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the Government’s commitment to working with business to improve gender diversity but pointed out that employers still face challenges in doing this.
Katja Hall, CBI director of employment policy, said: “Lack of applicants is still a barrier for employers looking to diversify their workforce. The ability to choose candidates which are under-represented in the workforce in tie-break recruitment situations could be a useful tool, but employers will need clear guidance on how to use this positive action provision correctly to avoid falling foul of the law.”
Meanwhile, Unison’s general secretary Dave Prentis has accused the Government of “stripping down its commitment to equality”.
“Female public sector workers face a triple whammy – frozen pay, cuts to services and now further delays in giving them equal pay,” he said.
“This is confirmation that the gender pay gap is still struggling to be closed, with those at the bottom ignored by big bosses,” Prentis concluded.