The government now sees equal pay as a vote winner. The proposal requiring large companies (250+ staff) to publish their gender pay figures is not new. It was first proposed (but not implemented) by Labour under the Equality Act 2010 and rejected by the Tories during the coalition government preferring a voluntary approach. This has resulted in a minimal response. However, the majority of UK employers are small to medium sized companies so the impact of this proposal will be limited.

If the government is serious about promoting gender pay equality, it should consider reinstating equal pay questionnaires which were abolished during the coalition government. Without a statutory process, it is far harder for women (and men) to establish if their co-workers are being paid more than them for the same work. Gender pay differences will not be resolved simply by ‘naming and shaming’ large companies.

Large companies will be forced to publish details of the pay gap between men and women, David Cameron has announced in a move which puts him in direct conflict with business leaders.

Mr Cameron said that he wants to “create the pressure we need for change” to help drive up women’s wages and close the pay gap between men and women “within a generation”.