In March the government committed itself to introducing within a year the mandatory gender pay gap reporting requirements that are already included in the Equality Act, but which have never been brought into force.

The detail about the pay reporting requirements will be contained in Regulations. Over the summer the government conducted a high level consultation about what the requirements might look like. Although the consultation finished in early September, neither the government response nor the draft Regulations have yet been published.

It was therefore something of a surprise to see press releases last week about "new measures" to eradicate gender inequality in the workplace. These seem to boil down to:

  • A commitment to use the gender pay reporting requirements to force large employers to publish information about bonus payments to men and women; and
  • Scrapping the Equality Act exclusion of public bodies from the gender pay gap reporting requirements.

In addition, the government will "work with business" to make sure that there are no all-male boards in the FTSE 350 and encourage businesses to recruit graduates on a "name blind" basis to reduce the risk of discrimination in recruitment.

However, until we've seen the draft Regulations, the extent of an employer's obligations – and the extent to which gender pay gap reporting will actually help close the gender pay gap – remain unclear.