By Kendall Burnett and Sarah Gadd

There is mixed opinion on the UK’s forthcoming gender pay reporting regime. Whether the new reporting obligations will help eradicate the UK gender pay gap (reported by the Office of National Statistics to be 19.2% in 2015) or fuel an increase in equal pay discrimination claims in the private sector remains to be seen. The changes are part of the government’s drive to tackle gender inequality, including its pledge to increase the representation of women on all FTSE 350 boards to 33% by 2020.

The UK is not the first EU country to introduce mandatory gender pay reporting. In France, large employers are required to factor gender pay equality into their annual collective bargaining negotiations, and can be required to implement a gender pay gap action plan. Non- compliant companies can be fined up to 1% of their total wage bill, and may also be subject to civil, and in rare circumstances, criminal sanctions if a gender pay gap exists that the company cannot objectively justify. However, the Nordic countries are the leaders in this area with Iceland, Norway, Finland and Sweden grabbing the top spots in The Global Gender Gap Report produced by the World Economic Forum in 2015. Whether these countries’ successful narrowing of the pay gap comes down to mandatory reporting or other cultural factors is difficult to tell.