COMPANIES could be forced to publish what they pay men and women in an attempt to close the gender pay gap if the Liberal Democrats are part of the next Government.
Firms employing more than 250 people would have to make public the average wage of male and female employees.
Companies which fail to publish their wage rates could face fines of up to £,5000.
The Liberal Democrats will promise to include the measure in their General Election manifesto today and hope it would embarrass firms into action.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: “Forty years after the Equal Pay Act was passed it is utterly unacceptable that women are not being equally rewarded in the workplace – with women paid, on average, 20 per cent less than men.
“Real equality means fair pay. It’s time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough.
“We need to lift the lid on what big companies pay the men and women they employ, with that information there for every employee and customer to see.”
The proposal comes in the week the Prime Minister promoted women into senior Government roles but came under fire when it emerged the new Leader of the House of Lords would not be a Cabinet member like her male predecessor and so would be paid less.
Lib Dem Women and Equalities Minister Jo Swinson said: “If women in the workplace are to have the same opportunities and choices as men, they must be properly rewarded for their talents and skills - it’s as simple as that.”