The Government’s deadline for Gender Pay Gap reporting passed on the 4th April, a frantic final 24 hours saw more than 1000 companies rushing to submit their results at the last minute, briefly causing the gender pay reporting portal to crash.

In total 10,015 organisations had reported their results by the midnight deadline, far exceeding the Government’s original estimate of 9000, and yet the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the body charged with enforcing gender pay gap legislation, estimate that their are around 1,500 companies which haven’t yet reported.

Discussing the results Rebecca Hilsenrath, CEO of the EHRC, said:

“While over 10,000 employers have complied with the law there are others who have not taken this seriously and now face legal action. Reporting gender pay gaps is not optional; it is a legal requirement, as well as being the right thing to do. We will soon be starting enforcement against all employers that haven’t published”

The EHRC has said it will write to employers who have failed to report by the 9th April offering them a further 28 days to submit their data. Failure to comply will lead to an investigation and potentially the issue of an unlawful act notice which is enforceable in court with a conviction and unlimited fine.

Discussing enforcement of the legislation in The Guardian prior to the deadline Hilsenrath said:

“If that happens it will be the case that the company has been found to be in breach of the law and you won’t be able to row back from the publicity of that fact once the deadline has past,”

“There will be a list and this will be made public. We will be conducting a statutory investigation and that requires us as a matter of law to publish the terms of reference. So this is going to be very public and there won’t be any way to hide the figures. Whether they are all published on the same day as 7,000 other people it won’t get you out of the problem.”

Initial analysis of the data that has been submitted to date shows that men in the UK are paid 9.8% more than women, with 78% of firms paying men more than women.

The construction sector and financial and insurance services fared particularly poorly with with median gender pay gaps of 25% and 22% respectively.

Women working in the accommodation and food services sector were better served with female employees earning just 1% less, on average.

There are clearly problems with some of the data however. Of those that have submitted more than 200 have since had to change and resubmit their data, over 150 companies have submitted ineligible data which had not been signed off by a company Director and a further 51 companies have made the statistically improbable claim that they have no gender pay gap.

All of this indicates that many organisations are still struggling with how to respond to the implementation and enforcement of gender pay gap legislation, never mind the reputational risk they now face.

Business journalists are already compiling league tables of the worst and best performers, there will be calls for boycotts on social media, reputations will be harmed, recruitment will suffer and in some cases, resignations tendered.

Businesses must act now to show they have a plan in place to start to close the Gender Pay Gap before the 2019 reporting cycle begins.

This May we will be joining a coalition of organisations including exclusive legal sponsor and host Eversheds Sutherland and partners CMI, enei, Golin PR, Vercida and Curo Compensation to participate in the latest installment of a series of events focusing on Gender Pay Gap legislation and how businesses can prepare for the next phase of reporting.

Gender Pay Gap: Moving Forward takes place on Tuesday 22nd May in London and features contributions from the EHRC, Fawcett Society, Staffmetrix, CMI, the Noon Centre for Equality and Diversity in Business, Vercida, Golin PR, Curo, Eversheds Sutherland, the Women’s Engineering Society, Working Families and more.

Places are limited at this event with many professionals already registered, so if you do wish to join us we recommend booking your place as soon as possible, you can sign up on the conference website here.

We hope you can join us in May to explore next steps in Gender Pay Gap reporting.