In Depth

What are the new gender pay gap regulations?

Action on wage inequality is 'well overdue', say campaigners, but does it go far enough?

Large and mid-size employers must reveal the average pay of male and female staff under a new rule introduced today to reduce the gender pay gap.

According to the Office of National Statistics, men are paid 18.1 per cent more than women as a whole and 9.4 per cent when counting full-time work only.

Women in the financial services suffer the largest pay gap, with a 34 per cent disparity, reports the Financial Times reports.

What are the new regulations?

From Thursday 6 April, any company employing more than 250 people in the UK will be asked to publish the average wage, including bonuses, of male and female employees within the next year.

It affect around 9,000 companies, which collectively employ more than 15 million people.

Companies will not face repercussions if their figures reveal a gender pay gap, but women and equalities minister Justine Greening said the government was hopeful that "reputational risk" would push them to take action.

Will it lead to equal pay?

Labour MP and feminist campaigner Gloria De Piero says the rules are "great news, and well overdue".

Transparency alone won't bring change, she writes in the Daily Telegraph, but "shining a light" on the problem is the first step towards fixing it.

However, some activists are concerned the government's focus on partnership with businesses means companies will not face serious pressure or formal punishment if they fail to comply.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, called for the UK to adopt similar rules to Iceland, which recently introduced legislation enabling its government to fine companies with a gender wage gap.

Nonetheless, one employment lawyer told The Guardian the new rules "are likely to do more for pay parity in five years than equal pay legislation has done in 45 years".

Greening said the government would keep an "open mind" about "whether we need to go further in terms of regulations and sanctions", adding: "The important thing is to win over hearts and mind."

She also acknowledged that publishing data on employee pay was not a "silver bullet" solution to the gender pay gap, but said it formed part of a range of initiatives aimed at improving equality and representation in the workplace.

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