Law forcing companies to reveal gender pay gap hailed as ‘a big step forward’

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Companies with 250 or more employees must reveal their gender pay gaps within the next year to fulfil a new legal requirement.

The law, which came into effect today, is aimed at encouraging companies to eliminate the a pay gap which stands at 18.1 percent for all employees and 9.4 percent for full-time workers.

Just under half of the UK workforce – 15 million people – will be affected by the legislation, which experts say could do more to combat sexist salaries than any law has in decades.

Public, private and voluntary sector firms all must disclose their average pay for men and women, including any bonuses, or face being contacted by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

The law indicates that companies must publish their median and mean average pay for each gender, as well the proportion of men and women in each quarter of the pay structure.

If they are set to report a gap between male and female employees’ salaries, firms will be encouraged to include an action plan explaining how they will fix the situation.

Sarah Henchoz, employment partner at law firm Allen & Overy, told the BBC that the law was a huge move in the right direction.

“The gender pay gap reporting provisions are likely to do more for pay parity in five years than equal pay legislation has done in 45 years.”

“Today sees a big step forward in the journey to achieve gender parity in the UK,” said Emma Codd from Deloitte UK, which was publishing figures on its gender pay before the law came into effect.

“For the first time people will be able to see the gender pay gap of large employers at one fixed point in time, with this gap measured and reported in a consistent way,” she told the BBC.

A European Parliament debate last month on the issue led to one anti-LGBT politician, Polish representative Janusz Korwin-Mikke, saying women deserved less because they are “weaker, they are smaller, they are less intelligent”.

The gender pay gap in Hollywood has also been in the news recently, as it was revealed that House of Cards and the X-Files revival saw female co-stars offered less than their male counterparts.

As #GenderPayGap trended nationwide this morning, people expressed their delight and relief at the new requirement, as well as ridicule at the number of people denying the concept was real.