The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has written to the Government informing it that in June it will be commencing the first of its gender pay gap investigations into employers who have failed to comply with their gender pay gap (GPG) reporting obligations. The announcement should not come as a surprise as the EHRC issued a warning prior to 4 April 2018 deadline that any companies which failed to comply with their reporting obligations could face enforcement action in the form of a fine or an investigation.

It has emerged that despite the warning from the EHRC some 1,500 companies did not meet the April deadline and as a result the EHRC commenced its enforcement process. On 9 April it wrote to all of those employers believed to be in breach of their obligations, giving them 28 days to comply or face further action. The letter advises that if these companies continue to be non-compliant the EHRC will commence an investigation which, depending on the outcome, may be followed by an “unlawful act” notice.

In addition, the EHRC’s enforcement letter states that it will name and shame those employers subject to an investigation by publishing the findings on its website. This is the fist time that the EHRC has confirmed that it will publically name employers that have not complied with their reporting obligations and the approach clearly poses significant reputational risks for companies.

The EHRC has come under fire recently for being seen as reluctant to make full use of its powers under the Equality Act 2010. Maria Miller MP, the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, was reported as describing the EHRC’s approach to taking action against businesses as “toothless”. In light of its recent letter to the Government, the EHRC will be hoping that this perception will have changed and that it will be seen as taking severe action against businesses who have failed to comply.