The deadline for larger employers to publish their gender pay gap reports passed on 4 April 2018, with around 1500 employers in default. The Equality and Human Rights Commission published its finalised enforcement strategy at the end of March and on 9 April wrote to employers in default giving them 28 days to comply or explain why they are not in scope. It intends to begin statutory investigations into continued defaulters in June and may then issue unlawful act notices and ultimately seek court orders and unlimited fines for non-compliance. It will also name and shame on its website. Although the emphasis is on defaulters, the EHRC has stated that it has the means to identify employers who submit statistically improbable data and will consider taking action against them where it is reasonable and proportionate to do so.
Employers will need to collect a fresh round of pay data as at 5 April 2018 and there will inevitably be pressure this year to show improvement in the figures and/or greater efforts to bring about change. The House of Commons BEIS Select Committee launched an inquiry focussing in part on the gender pay gap and has asked the FRC to revise the Corporate Governance Code to require remuneration committees to demonstrate what actions they are taking to address the gender pay gap in their remuneration policies. There have also been several initiatives aimed at two of the perceived causes of the gender pay gap: the under-representation of women in board and senior management roles and the lack of flexible work for both genders. A “Men as Change Agents” toolkit has been published by the Women’s Business Council and Government Equalities Office asking CEOs to take personal responsibility for improving diversity at board level, and certain investors have warned that they may vote against board chairman if they fail to improve the number of women in leadership roles. The House of Commons’ Women and Equalities Committee, Fathers and the workplace, has also recommended better rights to flexible jobs and improved paternity rights for fathers, while the Government has sought to encourage fathers to take shared parental leave with its “Share the Joy” campaign.