Voluntary gender pay scheme announced
Employers will be asked to help tackle the gender pay gap by publishing data about their workforce on a voluntary basis under new plans announced by the Home Office.
The voluntary scheme will supercede the previous Government's commitment to force companies with more than 250 employees to publish gender pay audits after 2013.
Equalities minister Lynne Featherstone said that the proposal will increase transparency and help employers identify problems.
It is aimed at organisations that employee 150 or more people and follows a similar commitment for the public sector announced earlier this year.
Featherstone said: "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.
"Different organisations face different challenges in promoting equality so if we are to get this right for everybody a much more flexible approach is needed.
"Today's equality strategy is our blueprint for change, including plans for voluntary pay reporting and positive action in recruitment and promotion.
"These plans are absolutely not about political correctness, or red tape, or quotas. They are about giving individual employers the tools they need to help make the workplace fairer."
Featherstone also announced that the government will enact Equality Act measures on positive action in relation to recruitment and promotion.
This aims to help employers make their organisations more representative by giving them the option, when faced with two or more candidates of equal merit, to choose a candidate from a group that is under-represented in the workforce.
The Home Office says this does not mean allowing 'quotas' or giving someone a job just because they are a woman, disabled or from an ethnic minority. "Positive discrimination remains illegal," it says.
The Government says its equality strategy is based on "treating people as individuals with individual needs".
As part of the new approach, the Government Equalities Office will become a unit of the Home Office.