Compulsory pay audits will force companies to reveal how much men are paid compared to women, which is a necessary step in the move towards equality in the workplace.

That is according to the Institute of Employment Rights, which has been reacting to news reported in the Times that the audits will be announced as part of the Equalities Bill on Monday (April 27th).

Carolyn Jones, director of the Institute of Employment Rights, highlighted the fact that women still earn 17 per cent less than their male counterparts.

Explaining the importance of compulsory pay audits, Ms Jones said: "Unless employers are forced to, first of all, to look at their systems, monitor their pay, and who they are paying it to and, secondly, then act upon what those surveys show them, then we’re not going to reach equal pay in this country."

Ms Jones expressed concern that employers may be using the recession as an excuse to "make women pay for the problems that they haven’t caused".

She said, therefore, that to be effective, the new system must be "properly monitored and enforced".

The Equality and Human Rights Commission recently revealed that women working in the finance sector had to cope with gender pay gaps of up to 60 per cent.