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United Kingdom: Bill to Provide Transparency in Pay to Reduce Gender Inequalities

(May 13, 2015) The Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill is about to be debated in the House of Lords. This bill will allow the Secretary of State of the United Kingdom to introduce regulations under section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 that would require employers with more than 250 employees to publish information about the employees’ pay for the purpose of revealing whether there are any differences in the pay of male and female employees. (Equal Pay (Transparency) Bill, No. 138 of 2015, United Kingdom Parliament website; Equality Act 2010, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)

The proposed law would cover over ten million people across the United Kingdom. There is currently a voluntary regime in place, but only five firms have published information about their employees’ pay figures. (Large Firms Will Have to Reveal Gender Pay Gap, BBC NEWS (Mar. 7, 2014).)

While the Office for National Statistics reported in November 2014 that the difference between male and female wages was 9.4%, down from 10% in April of 2013, the government wants to act to reduce this gap further. (Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, 2014 Provisional Results (Nov. 2014), Office for National Statistics website.) If the bill passes successfully through Parliament, it will be an offense under the Equality Act 2010 for a company to fail to publish this information and could result in a fine of up to £5,000 (approximately US$6250). (Equality Act 2010, c. 15, s. 78, LEGISLATION.GOV.UK.)