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Pay audit results to remain private

While the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act enables the government to grant employment tribunals the right to order businesses to undertake an equal pay audit following a successful claim against them, the results will not need to be published in the public domain.

However, businesses would need to make the results available to the employees involved in the audit, relevant trade unions and the employment tribunal that ordered the audit to take place. The government also recommended that firms make the results available publically, even though that will not be compulsory.

The government is currently consulting on its equal pay audit plans and intends to introduce regulations next year. According to the proposals, businesses would be required to compare the terms and conditions of employment for male and female staff carrying out equal work, explain any differences and outline what actions could be taken to eliminate these.

These equal pay audits will need to meet the standards set by the employment tribunal, with tribunal judges or independent auditors being potentially brought on board to “provide employers with compliance guidance” and “to advise on how best to carry out” the audit.

Businesses which do not comply with the order to carry out an equal pay audit could face fines of up to £5,000 once the new regime comes into force.