New figures published by firms employing over 250 members of staff revealed that eight in ten companies have a gender pay gap. The figures had to be released by midnight on Wednesday under a new government scheme in the hope that the shame of a pay gap will encourage companies to actively change.

Of the 10,014 companies and public sector organisations which published their pay gap figures, 3,010 of them had a gap above the national median, which is 18.4%. The industries with the largest pay gaps were construction, finance and education, with construction having the worst gap of all industries put together.

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The new scheme introduced by the government has no equivalent around the world and is an initiative that has been praised by pay gap campaigners and even some businesses. However, the midnight deadline was not met by all companies and organisations, including trade union Unite which says it has the figures waiting to be signed off today.

Companies who failed to meet the deadline will be taken to court and fined, according to the head of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) Rebecca Hilsenrath. “It’s the law, it’s not an option.” Ms Hilsenrath said.