With 10 days to go until the gender pay gap reporting deadline, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has warned that employers could face unlimited fines if they fail to publish their data.
Fewer than 4,000 of an estimated 9,000 eligible employers have so far published their gender pay gap reports.
Public sector employers with 250 staff or more must report their pay gap by Friday (30 March). Private sector employers have until 4 April.
The EHRC, which today published its final strategy on how the regulations will be enforced, said it would send letters on 9 April to employers that had missed the deadline.
Gender pay gap reporting
The letter will give the employer a further 28 days to publish its data and will warn that if it fails to do so, the EHRC will investigate whether it has committed an unlawful act.
If an unlawful act notice is issued, the employer will be required to prepare an action plan to address the breach. If it does not do so, the EHRC will seek a court order requiring the employer to comply.
Private sector employers may face an unlimited fine, decided by the courts, if they fail to comply with the regulation.
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the EHRC, said employers that hadn’t yet reported were “entering the last chance saloon”.
“This is not optional; it is the law and we will be fully enforcing it 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, rethink their priorities, be prepared for serious reputational damage, and be ready to face a very unhappy workforce,” she said.
Gender pay gap reporting is an opportunity for employers to understand salary differentials at their organisations and look at how they should rectify them, according to Jemima Olchawski, head of policy and insight at the Fawcett Society.
“McKinsey estimates 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,” said Olchawski.