The Government’s scheme for voluntary gender pay gap reporting received little support from employers, but a last-minute amendment to the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 (SBEE) to introduce mandatory reporting won significant cross-party political support. SBEE provides that the government will introduce regulations as soon as possible and no later than 25 March 2016 “for the purpose of requiring the publication of information showing whether there are differences in the pay of males and females”.

A consultation paper seeking views on the detail of those regulations was published this week, with a view to introducing new legislation in the early part of 2016. The consultation asks for feedback on where an employer must publish its pay data, how the data ought to be broken down, how often a pay audit ought to be published, and whether the proposed threshold that would limit the publication requirement to businesses with more than 250 employees is appropriate. Macfarlanes’ summary of certain aspects of the consultation is available here and an overview of key corporate aspects of SBEE is available here.

Impact - at present, private sector employers are only required to publish gender pay data if they lose an equal pay claim in the Employment Tribunal. The substantial widening of the obligation to publish pay data will be a significant change for employers for whom this degree of openness on pay has never previously been required.