By Alex Stevenson
Firms which are struggling to pay their female employees the same as their male counterparts may be forced to receive outside help by the government.
The Guardian newspaper
claimed it had learned ministers were considering publicly revealing which private sector employers were doing especially badly when it comes to the pay gap between men and women.
This 'naming and shaming' strategy would require all firms to set out the differences in pay grades between men and women working for them.
Training and promotion of female staff by external organisations including unions would then be made a priority for the firms who were performing worst, the Guardian reported.
Unions have backed the proposal but business leaders have expressed concern, saying it would not make any real difference to equality levels.
According to campaigning group the Fawcett Society, women earn on average 17 per cent less than men. And in part-time work the gap is 36 per cent, rising to 45 per cent in London.
The requirement could be introduced as an amendment to the equality bill, which will ban pay secrecy clauses and require public bodies to do more to tackle discrimination.