Companies which do not pay male and female staff equally will face tough fines, according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In his speech to the Labour party conference, Corbyn said Labour would give the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) extra funding to oversee the policy.
Under Labour, Corbyn said those shown not to treat staff equally would incur fines which would reflect the scale of the offence and size of the company.
Experts says there is already legislation which deals with equal pay claims. Remedies do not include a fine for employers. A tribunal can order compensation to effectively make good any inequality in pay, as well as damages. This can represent a significant cost to an employer.
There has been confusion in the reporting of the announcement, which has been mixed up with the gender pay gap. The gender pay gap is not necessarily about equal pay for equal work, but about average earnings of men and women within certain pay bands and can be affected by the number of men and women within a pay band, for instance, most senior managers tend to be men.
The Conservatives introduced legislation early this year which obliges all companies with over 250 staff to do gender pay audits and publish their results on an annual basis. The deadline for the first year is next April. The gender pay gap regulations will be reviewed in five years, but currently there is no penalty for not complying with the duty to report data. Employers can be referred to the EHRC, but HR experts say it is unclear what this involves.
Companies publishing their data this year have been advised by experts to contextualise their results and show how they are addressing any gaps.