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Firms warned to report gender pay gap or face ‘unlimited fines’

Construction firms face unlimited fines if they fail to submit information on their gender pay gap, a government-commissioned body has warned. 

Companies with more than 250 staff have until 4 April next year to report their gender pay gap to the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) or be hit with a penalty.  

So far, only 419 out of an estimated 9,000 qualifying firms across all industries have reported their results. Of those 419, just 15 are construction companies, with Lendlease among that number.

The gender pay gap shows the difference in average pay between all men and women in a workforce, rather than comparing like-for-like job roles.

EHRC chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath said: “The law now says employers must be transparent about pay for women, and our regulatory role is to make sure this happens.

“We will educate employers about their responsibilities and hope to see widespread compliance.

“If that doesn’t happen, we won’t hesitate to resort to our more stringent legal powers – including enforcing unlimited fines and convictions.”

The EHRC’s warning came as it published a new draft enforcement strategy, which is open to consultation until 2 February.

The organisation said it could investigate suspected breaches of the regulations and offer firms the opportunity to enter into a “formal agreement” to comply as an “alternative to continuing with the investigation”. 

As part of the new rules, employers must reveal the mean and median gender pay gap, the difference in bonuses given to male and female staff, and the number of male and female staff in four pay grades.

Current figures show the gender pay gap at 18.4 per cent, the EHRC said.

But the body said it was “encouraging businesses to see their company statistics as only part of the story, with their action plans to tackle them as the key”.

At the launch of the initiative in April this year, women and equalities minister Justine Greening said the government wanted to “eliminate the gender pay gap completely”. 

Figures will be collected on an annual basis, the EHRC added. 

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