Labor government says it will force companies to publicly reveal gender pay gap.

Australian companies with more than 1000 employees would have to publicly reveal how much they pay women compared to men under a federal Labor government.

Labor says the gender pay gap is “stubbornly high” and women working full time still get paid almost 15 per cent less than men working full time.

“It is unacceptable this has barely changed over the last two decades,” said a joint statement from Deputy Opposition Leader Tanya Plibersek and opposition employment spokesman Brendan O’Connor on Sunday.

On average, a woman working full time earns around $27,000 per year less than a man, the statement said.

“We must do better,” it said, adding that a Labor government under Bill Shorten would “act to shine a light on the gender pay gap in Australian companies”.

Labor would also change the Fair Work Act to prohibit pay secrecy clauses, and require the Workplace Gender Equality Agency to publish a list showing whether large companies had undertaken and reported a gender pay gap audit.

Companies already report their gender pay data to the Workplace Gender Equality Agency but Labor would make it public, the statement said.

“People will be able to search a gender pay equity portal to find out a company’s overall pay gap, and the pay gaps for managerial and non-managerial staff.”

The policy is an important step towards fair pay for women, says the Australian Council of Trade Unions.

President Michele O’Neil says it will ensure employers won’t be able to punish their employees for discussing pay with each other.

“Working women need measures to combat the systematic society-wide undervaluation of work done by women,” she said in a statement on Sunday.

“This must include moving away from reliance on the narrow and failing enterprise bargaining system.”

All Australian government departments and agencies would also have to conduct gender pay audits within the first year of a Labor government.