Britain's biggest businesses have been slow to publish compulsory gender pay gap data ahead of next year’s deadline, with just 34 firms offering up their numbers so far out of a possible 9,000 who will have to comply.
Earlier this year, the government announced that employers with 250 employees or more would have to start collecting gender pay data and calculating their pay gap from April 2017.
Employers have until April next year to publish the figures, but the low tally so far, published on a government website, is 34.
The progress report comes at a time of heightened scrutiny on gender pay disparity, after the BBC revealed the salaries of stars earning more than £150,000 last week, with two-thirds of those being male. Yesterday, some of the BBC’s high-profile female personalities called on the corporation to “act now” to deal with the gender pay gap in an open letter to BBC director general Tony Hall.
Under the new reporting requirements, businesses will have to cover the gender pay gap as measured by both mean and median averages; the gender bonus gap on both mean and median averages; the proportion of men and women receiving bonuses, and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the organisation’s pay structure.
If employers fail to comply with the April 2018 deadline, they will be contacted by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.
"Businesses support the ambition to close the gender pay gap and many will be in the process of preparing their reports before the April deadline,” said a spokesperson for the British Chambers of Commerce.
“When all the figures are compiled they must be put into context and the government should publish sector averages so firms can benchmark themselves against others in their industry."
Other business groups also warned of the complexities involved when assessing the data.
“The gender pay gap is caused by a wide range of factors, and the latest data emphasises that we can do more to address it,” said the CBI.
“The fact that women have a higher propensity to choose occupations – like teaching or care work – which offer lower salaries on average; or that fathers are less likely to take time off work to share parental responsibilities, are the biggest barriers to raising the status of women in work,” added Seamus Nevin, head of employment and skills policy at the Institute of Directors.
Read more: Gender pay: let’s make parity a reality