Failure to report gender pay gap could result in legal action, watchdog warns

Labour Party

Some 5000 companies which must provide data on their gender pay gaps could be pursued through the courts if they fail to provide the information, the head of the Human Rights and Equality Commission (HREC) has warned.

Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the HREC, said companies who fail to produce the information they are required to, would be named and shamed. She reiterated that failing to report the gap is breaking the law and reminded organisations which have yet to file that this is a statutory requirement: “We have the powers to enforce against companies who are in breach of these regulations. We take this enormously seriously. We have been very clear that we will be coming after 100% of companies that do not comply.”

With just 10 days left for companies to meet the deadline the large number left to report suggests a number may fail to meet the deadline. Companies which continuously breach reporting deadline are likely to face sanctions which could include unlimited fines, summary convictions or being forced to publish the data under a court order.

Hilsenrath also warned about the perils of using consultants, they may provide legal loopholes but using such mechanisms to avoid full reporting would be “ill judged” she said.

Besides we already know of some companies which have tried to avoid full reporting and following pressure to do so they ended up reporting their full figures. Ultimately it only served to make them look bad. As I may have said before it’s no good giving results which are not truly reflective of your organisation, it then becomes a futile exercise which leads to inaccurate information being published. If the organisation can’t see clearly the extent of its own problem, then it also can’t properly take action to remedy it.

Likewise, it means that Government, bodies like the HREC and other stakeholders receive an inaccurate portrait of the problem thus not allowing them to intervene to rectify it.

With 10 days to go I urge all companies to file their gender pay gap reports on time and accurately-so that we can work to reducing the gap and achieving parity across all areas of employment without delay.