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Employers with over 250 members of staff are entering the ‘last chance saloon’ to report their gender pay gap or face unlimited fines, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
The warning comes as the EHRC publishes its final strategy on how the new gender pay audit regulations will be enforced.
Detailing the different stages of legal action that all non-compliant employers will face after the deadlines pass (30 March for public sector organisations and 4 April for businesses and charities), the strategy explains enforcement action will start when the Commission writes to all employers who have not complied with the law.
The letters will be sent on 9 April and employers will be given 28 days to comply before an investigation takes place and an unlawful act notice is issued. The EHRC states: “Failure to comply with the regulations will ultimately lead to an unlimited fine decided by the courts.”
Rebecca Hilsenrath, Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “Employers with 250 or more staff still have time to report their gender pay gap. 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.”
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. McKinsey estimate that the UK could add £150 billion to GDP if we improve performance on gender balance in the workplace- so employers really can’t afford not to act.”