Firms entering 'last chance saloon' to publish gender pay gap data

Britain's equality watchdog has warned it will take enforcement action against companies who do not publish their gender pay gap.

Firms with 250 or more employees are required to have submitted their median and mean gender pay gap figures to the Government Equalities Office by April 4.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said those who have not yet passed on their information are entering the "last chance saloon" and that employees who ignore the instruction could face "unlimited fines".

Figures that have so far been published by 3,745 such firms show 77.6% have a median gender pay gap in favour of men, 8.3% have none, and 14.1% in favour of women.

An estimated 9,000 employers are expected to have to submit such data - with those who miss the deadline potentially facing legal action.

The deadline is earlier - March 30 - for public sector employers.

The EHRC said it would send enforcement letters from April 9 and that failure to comply would "ultimately lead to an unlimited fine decided by the courts".

Its chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: "The clock is ticking and with just 10 days to go, those who haven't reported really are entering the last chance saloon.

"This is not optional. It is the law and we will be fully enforcing against all companies that do not report.

"This legislation is in place to bring about better gender equality in the workplace and any employer not complying needs to ask themselves tough questions, re-think their priorities, be prepared for serious reputational damage, and be ready to face a very unhappy workforce."

Of the Government departments, the Department for Transport has the largest median gender pay gap of 22.6%.

One of the UK's largest employers, the Department of Health, has a pay gap of 13.3%, while the Department for Work and Pensions is the only government body to have a pay gap of 0%.

None of the departments who have so far reported their figures pays women more than men on average.

Jemima Olchawski, head of policy and insight at the Fawcett Society, said: "The gender pay gap represents a productivity gap. It's bad for women who lose out on potential earnings and career opportunities but also bad for businesses who are failing to properly recruit, promote and reward women.

"Pay gap reporting is an opportunity to look at the data, understand the cause and nature of the gap in an organisation and develop a plan to close it."

The largest median gender pay gap to be reported so far is 95%, from Rainham Industrial Services Limited.

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