The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently launched a consultation on how private and voluntary sector employers with at least 250 staff can measure and report on their gender pay gap, following on from proposals in the Equality Bill.

Women working full-time currently earn 17.1 per cent less per hour on average than men, with the gap failing to improve in the past three years. The difference in some sectors (such as finance) is much wider and the Commission believes that most organisations have no idea about their own gender pay gap.

It takes the view that developing ways for employers to measure and report on their gender pay gap will be a crucial step towards reducing pay inequity by providing greater transparency.

The aim is to empower private and voluntary sector employers to report on a voluntary basis, but the Equality Bill does contain a reserve power which allows a future Secretary of State to introduce mandatory reporting by 2013, if insufficient progress has been made on a voluntary basis.

The Commission has said it will also undertake a baseline 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.

The consultation is open until 28 October 2009 and contributions are encouraged from all unions.

For more details, go to: www.equalityhumanrights.com/fairer-britain/gender-pay-reporting/