UK firms that fail to publish gender pay gap data face unlimited fines and convictions

Rebecca Smith
The EHRC said businesses will be brought to heel over gender pay gap failings
The EHRC said businesses will be brought to heel over gender pay gap failings (Source: Getty)

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has today unveiled its plans to crack down on companies that fail to comply with the deadline for reporting their gender pay gap set by the government, warning of unlimited fines and convictions.

CYBG, owner of Clydesdale Bank and Yorkshire Banks, today revealed a 37 per cent gender pay gap, pointing to the higher number of men in senior roles.

It has also bumped up its minimum salary for full time by 11 per cent to £17,000, after noting that 63 per cent of the bank’s lowest pay quartile is female.

Just 436 employers of some 9,000 that need to publish their gender pay gap information have done so ahead of the April deadline.

The government's new reporting regulations were put in place in April 2017, requiring large companies, or those with more than 250 employees, to publicly disclose the size of their gender pay gap.

The EHRC has now set out its enforcement policy for consultation, saying that while it will take steps to encourage compliance and engage informally with employers that are in breach of the regulations as the first step, it will ultimately bring enforcement against all employers that do not publish the information.

The policy will be open for consultation from today until 2 February 2018, as the EHRC plans to enforce a range of powers.

The punishments facing firms that fail to publish their gender pay gap
  • The EHRC may investigate suspected breaches of the regulations by private and voluntary sector employers and offer them the opportunity to enter into a formal agreement to comply as an alternative to continuing with the investigation.
  • It may issue unlawful act notices against employers that do not accept the offer of an agreement and who are found to have breached the regulations as a result of the investigation. These will require firms to comply with an action plan which can be enforced through court orders.
  • It may seek summary convictions and an unlimited fine to those who still refuse to comply with a court order.

The chief executive of the commission, Rebecca Hilsenrath, said:

The law now says employers must be transparent about pay for women, and our regulatory role is to make sure this happens.

We will educate employers about their responsibilities and hope to see widespread compliance. If that doesn’t happen, we won’t hesitate to resort to our more stringent legal powers - including enforcing unlimited fines and convictions.

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