The Obama administration on Friday issued a proposal that would require private businesses to submit more data about how their employees are paid, in a bid to help address the wage gap between men and women.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's plan would require all employers with 100 or more employees to provide the agency with additional information on employee pay broken down by gender, race and ethnicity.
The proposal expands upon a similar Department of Labor rule, which would have applied only to federal contractors. It would not require the reporting of specific salaries of each individual employee, but would add aggregate data on pay ranges and hours worked.
The data will be used by the EEOC, which enforces federal discrimination laws, to identify wage disparities between women and men in U.S. workplaces.
"We can't know what we don't know. We can't deliver on the promise of equal pay unless we have the best, most comprehensive information about what people earn," Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez said in a statement.
Fighting against gender pay discrimination has been a focus for President Barack Obama throughout his time in office.
The median wage of a woman working full-time year-round in the United States is about $39,600, only 79 percent of a man’s median earnings of $50,400. While the gap has narrowed slightly over the past two years, there is much more work left to do.
Gender equality in the U.S. workforce, and globally, is still decades away, according to an independent report released on Wednesday.
The latest government action comes on the 7th anniversary of the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, the first piece of legislation Obama ever signed into law. The fair pay law gave employees more time to challenge discriminatory pay practices.
Obama is scheduled to deliver remarks about the anniversary of the law's signing and his administration's work on equal pay issues later on Friday.
(Reporting by Ayesha Rascoe; Editing by Andrew Hay)