Industry groups have criticised government proposals to force companies bidding for public-sector contracts to disclose the difference in pay between their male and female staff.
Unveiling the Equalities Bill last week, Harriet Harman secretary of state for equalities and minister for women, said companies bidding for government work, such as contract caterers, would have to reveal salary structures to make the pay gap between men and women clearer. Employers will also have to reveal the numbers of ethnic minority and disabled people employed.
The bill is designed to simplify diversity legislation in the UK and introduce measures to help eradicate the gender pay gap, which currently stands at 17% between men and women in full-time roles.
But the British Hospitality Association said any new law would simply increase red tape for hospitality businesses.
"It is yet more bureaucracy, which will affect small businesses even more than the larger groups - to such an extent that small businesses will not bother to pitch for public-sector contracts," a spokesman said. "Ironically, this is against all that the Government is trying to achieve in opening up public contracts to the private sector."
The Forum of Private Business (FPB), which represents 25,000 UK employers, is lobbying the Government to award 30% of all public contracts to small businesses but fears the proposals will thwart these ambitions.
"Ironically, given that it is supposed to be employee-friendly legislation, it could become an impediment to employment," said FPB chief executive Phil Orford.
Food service consultant Vic Laws agreed that the new law would add bureaucracy to the tender process, but added that the questions over pay should be asked during the pre-qualification process, hopefully avoiding unnecessary paperwork.
By Daniel Thomas
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