It’s fair to say that, for a variety of reasons, gender equality is a socially and politically charged issue at the moment. As a result, it’s a particularly interesting time to take a look at the results of some of the gender pay gap reports that larger employers have begun to publish.
The BBC, who have a few gender pay issues of their own right now, recently published an article in which they drew attention to the gender pay gaps of some of the better-known businesses here in the UK. Whilst a small number of employers (including Evans Cycles) have reported a gender pay gap in favour of women, most have not. Generally, the picture has been rather less rosy. For example, women’s hourly pay rates are 19% lower in Npower, 51.7% lower in EasyJet and a staggering 64.8% lower in the women’s clothing retailer, Phase Eight.
Of course, gender pay gap figures alone will not always tell the whole story (as Phase Eight's chief executive, Benjamin Barnett, has been keen to emphasise). As a result, employers need to give careful thought not only to the calculation of the relevant statistics, but also to (i) the way in which the data is displayed and (ii) the manner in which it is explained and put in its proper context (if necessary).
The risk of getting it wrong?
Interestingly, until recently, most commentators assumed that there was no obvious sanction for employers who fail to comply with their gender pay gap reporting obligations. However, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has opened up consultation on the prospect of using its own enforcement powers to take action against employers who don’t do what they should. They have claimed that employers face ‘unlimited fines’, should they fail to comply. Many commentators remain sceptical about the validity of this threat; nevertheless, it provides added incentive (if such incentive is required) to make sure that you are doing what you should.
Need some help?
Given that private sector employers with 250 employee or more are required to report their gender pay gap data by no later than 4 April 2018, those who are still to complete the process need to ensure that they are on track to do so.
If you need some help finalising your report, please get in touch. We have been advising local employers on the finer points of the ‘Gender Pay Gap Regulations’ of late, sometimes as a result of their other advisers being unable to provide them with the help and support they need.