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U.K. Liberal Democrats Pledge Mandatory Gender Pay Audits

July 18 (Bloomberg) -- The U.K. Liberal Democrat party will pledge to make companies with more than 250 staff publish the average pay of men and women, as it looks for ways to emphasize differences with its Conservative coalition partners.

If the party remains in government after the 2015 election, it will push for Section 78 of the 2010 Equalities Act, which requires equal pay audits, to be put into force. The coalition has opted to stick to a voluntary approach, which has persuaded firms including AstraZeneca Plc, BAE Systems Plc and Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc to publish details of how much staff earn.

“It’s time to accept that the voluntary approach does not go far or fast enough,” Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, said in an e-mailed statement. “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.”

With an election due in May 2015, the party has been trying to show its differences with the Tories. Yesterday, it called for changes to an unpopular welfare cut that has become known as the “bedroom tax,” where people see their payments docked if they have unoccupied bedrooms.

To contact the reporter on this story: Robert Hutton in London at rhutton1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alan Crawford at acrawford6@bloomberg.net Andrew Atkinson

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