The reporting obligation that will affect companies with 250 + staff in 2018 is effectively legislation by ‘naming and shaming’ i.e. publication and league tables.

Some companies may have valid reasons for gender pay differences. However, most people will not be interested in a company’s explanation or justification.

The proposed penalty for non-compliance is low (up to £5,000) but reputational damage caused by negative publicity and possible claims from female staff in reliance on figures, could be far worse.

However, giving companies two years to prepare for publication should allow them sufficient time to address any gender pay disparity and perhaps implement changes.

In a move long resisted by business groups and parts of the Tory party, companies with more than 250 employees will have to disclose how much they are paying in salaries and bonuses to their male and female staff.

The league table of around 8,000 firms, which the government hopes will draw attention to the worst offenders, will be published from 2018, giving firms some time to address the inequality before their data will appear on the list.