I am delighted that 10,212 employers have now reported their gender pay gap, as of 9 o’clock this morning. That is 95% of eligible employers. Of course, reporting is just the first step, and it is important that employers now take action to close the gender pay gap in their businesses and organisations. Many have already published action plans, and we are working to support employers to take action to close those gaps.
Of course, had the coalition implemented Labour’s ground-breaking 2010 Equality Act fully, we would be much further down the road towards gender pay equality today. It is all very well publishing the data, but when is the Minister going to show some grit and insist that companies produce action plans, so that we can make some real progress?
The hon. Gentleman does the Government a disservice, if I may say so. This is world-leading legislation, and I have always been careful to ensure that we share the credit for it with the right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman), who brought the Act into being. We are ambitious about this, but we want to bring business with us. This is about cultural change, and there are really good signs that businesses are now listening to the public’s will that women must be paid fairly and properly.
The new Minister for Women and Equalities made an announcement that was welcomed by the Labour party when she said that sectors under the Government’s remit would lay out plans for organisations to publish their gender pay gap audits. It is good to see that that is one of her first actions, but does it go far enough? Can we be a little bit more ambitious? Will the Government commit to taking the next step, just as the Labour party is proposing, and introduce mandatory regulation so that next year all companies will have to report action plans alongside their gender pay gap figures or face fines and further auditing?
I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her question. We are reviewing the evidence carefully. We know, for example, that more than 10,000 businesses have been having a conversation about their pay policy in a way that they simply were not doing a year ago. We will review the evidence carefully and see what more needs to be done to ensure that businesses are working in accordance with the public will to ensure that these gaps are closed.