Employers with 250 employees or over will be expected to comply with new gender reporting requirements as from October 2016, with the first reports being required by no later than 30 April 2018.

The Equality Act (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2016 were published on 12 February and set out what the Government envisages employers will be required to report on. They are still subject to consultation but in short it is proposed that employers will:

  • have to publish information on their websites every year
  • leave such information on their websites for at least 3 years
  • upload the information to the Government
  • be named and shamed if they fail to comply, as from April 2018
  • potentially face civil or possibly criminal sanctions for non-compliance

The draft Regulations suggest that employers will have to publish both mean and median pay information based on the whole workforce. In addition, they must also state how many men and how many women are in each quartile of pay in the workforce in an attempt to smash through the glass ceiling and open up opportunities for women at senior level.

The aim is to close the inequality of pay that still exists between men and women at a much speedier rate than ever before. By ranking organisations in a league table, the intention is to expose organisations that are doing nothing to tackle any inequalities that exist, or who have attempted to by pass the legislation through other means, such setting similar basic pay levels but awarding substantially different bonus payments, a problem seen more in the City of London. As critics point out, the league tables are only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle and may not necessarily show the full picture. If organisations have high levels of part time workers or due to the sector there is an imbalance in the gender of the workforce, the figures will be skewed. The Government also intend to take steps to ensure that historically “male” subjects such as maths, science and engineering are taken up my more girls in the future.

The current gender pay gap in the UK as a whole is just under 20%. By putting in place such provisions the Government expects employers will be forced to take pro-active steps to address any anomalies and for consumers to vote with their feet if they see organisations failing to take steps to deal with such inequalities.

Since the Equality Act 2010 was introduced and organisations have been able to comply with such reporting requirements voluntarily, only five have chosen to do so. It is anticipated that the new provisions will affect 8000 organisations. If gender discrepancy was a thing of the past, surely all organisations would be volunteering such information.

However, as the reports do not need to be published for another 2 years, employers still have time to address such disparities.

If you would like to discuss any issues raised in this article, we have specific employment law expertise in advising in this area. For further advice, please contact Angela Gorton.

Please note this information is provided by way of example and may not be complete and is certainly not intended to constitute legal advice. You should take bespoke advice for your circumstances.

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