International Women’s Day: #BalanceforBetter
Jack Harrington
08/03/2019

 

As the theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is Balance for Better, we look at the steps the government has taken to address balance in pay through the gender pay gap reporting requirements which came into force in April 2017, and discuss how effective this has been, how well employers understand what they need to do, and what may come next.

 

On 17 January 2019 the BEIS Committee published the government’s response (https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201719/cmselect/cmbeis/1895/1895.pdf) to the Committee’s report on gender pay gap reporting.

The report found that in some organisations the GPG is as wide as 40% and made a number of recommendations for improvement. The government has not taken up these recommendations at the current time, so GPG reporting requirements will not be extended to companies with 50 or more employees (although this may be re-visited) and partner remuneration will remain excluded, although the government may in the future introduce a voluntary reporting methodology. Further, there will be no requirement for more detailed reporting, for example showing part-time and full-time statistics separately, and the GPG reporting guidance will not be amended although the government will continue to gather stakeholder feedback and update the guidance in the future if appropriate.

What has your experience been of GPG reporting requirements and steps to tackle any gap?

On 21 January 2019 the Government Equalities Office published a research report on a 2018 survey of 900 large employers looking at how they understand the GPG and what actions they are taking to close it https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/employers-understanding-of-the-gender-pay-gap-and-actions-to-tackle-it-research-report-on-the-2018-survey.

On a positive note, the majority of those responding (82%) said they had a good understanding of what the GPG is and how it is calculated, which was an increase from the 2017 figures (of 48%). 16% felt that although they were unsure of the specifics they had a reasonable understanding and only 2% had a limited understanding. 35% of respondees said they found compliance with the requirements very or fairly straightforward, but 30% said they found it very or fairly difficult and 33% said they would have benefitted from additional guidance. In respect of steps to tackle any gap, the research showed that over half of employers with a GPG of over 20% had developed a formal strategy to reduce it, with such measures including cultural changes within firms, gender-specific recruitment strategies and the promotion of flexible working and shared childcare.

 

“Balance is not a women’s issue, it’s a business issue. The race is on for the gender-balanced boardroom, a gender-balanced government, gender-balanced media coverage, a gender-balance of employees…” (IWD website)

 

The government may not be taking any steps to implement the BEIS recommendations for the time being but it may well do so in the future and, as the Government Equalities Office research report demonstrates, tackling the GPG remains a live and important issue. This means that all employers, whether or not covered by the current GPG reporting requirements, should be taking steps now to address any imbalance in pay within their workplace.

 

If you have any queries or need any support in addressing GPG issues, or if you think you would benefit from Equality and Diversity training in your workplace, please contact us to discuss the training options we can provide: https://www.pannoneacademy.com/employment-law-training

 

 

 

 

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