The North & Western Lancashire Chamber of Commerce has provided cautious backing to proposals which aim to make clear the gender gap in pay.
The government is seeking views on draft regulations which will increase transparency around the differences in pay between men and women.
It is planned that companies who fail to address pay differences between male and female employees will be highlighted in new league tables.
Firms with more than 250 employees will be forced to reveal any pay gap with the regulations thought to affect somewhere in the region of 8,000 companies across the UK.
“It seems perverse that, as a society, we are in the 21st century but still having to discuss equality in the workplace,” said Babs Murphy, the Chamber’s chief executive.
“It’s something that needs to be addressed but it must be achieved through a clearly thought out process rather than an exercise in ticking boxes.
“There is a danger, however, that the use of league tables may lead to naming and shaming which isn’t constructive at all – instead, those companies who are struggling to eradicate a gender gap should be able to get advice on how best to achieve it.”
Companies will need to begin calculating the pay gap from April 2017, a year before the first tables are published.
They must also publish the number of men and women in each pay range to make it clear where the disparity is at its worst.
In addition, businesses will have to publish the information on their websites and retain that data online for three years to show what progress has been made.
“While businesses will support the government’s ambition to close the gender pay gap, they will be cautious about the introduction of measures that reduce a complex issue to a set of headline statistics,” added Dr Adam Marshall, Executive Director of Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC).
“We’d ideally like to see pay gap reporting piloted among the largest companies, who can more easily absorb the regulatory burden.
“Gender pay gap figures also need to be put into context – businesses should be able to explain these figures, and the government should publish industry averages so firms can benchmark themselves against companies in their sector.”
Anyone interested in making their views known on the proposed regulation can do so online at: https://consult.education.gov.uk/government-equalities-office/mandatory-gender-pay-gap-reporting-draft-regulatio/consultation/intro/view