The deadline for all private and voluntary sector employers (who have 250 or more employees) to report their gender pay gap information has now passed. Employers had until 4 October 2021 to publish their gender pay gap information for the reporting year 2020-21; this deadline was delayed by several months in light of the continuing effects of the pandemic. For those employers who have not yet published their gender pay gap information, there is a risk that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) may take enforcement action against them.
The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings (excluding overtime) of men and women across an employer’s workforce over a period of time, irrespective of their role or seniority. To understand whether employers have a gender pay gap, they must calculate and report the following figures. These figures can be presented as either whole percentages or rounded to one decimal place:
- percentage of men and women in each hourly pay quarter
- mean (average) gender pay gap using hourly pay
- median gender pay gap using hourly pay
- percentage of men and women receiving bonus pay
- mean (average) gender pay gap using bonus pay
- median gender pay gap using bonus pay
This information must be published on the employers’ websites, and uploaded to the Government’s website via the Gender Pay Gap Reporting Service which can be accessed via this link: click here.
It is mandatory for private and voluntary sector employers with 250 or more employees (and listed public sector employers in England) to report their gender pay gap information. Employers who do not meet these criteria can choose to publish their gender pay gap information, but it is not mandatory to do so.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has monitored the gender pay gap between men and women’s average pay on a national level since 1997. The gender pay gap in 1997 was 27.5% for all employees. There has been a significant decrease in the gender pay gap since the ONS started monitoring this. In 2020, the gender pay gap among all employees was 15.5%, down from 17.4% in 2019.
The reasons behind the gender pay gap are various and complicated. A significant factor is thought to be the under-representation of women in senior executive roles and over-representation in low-paid or part time work. Another reason behind the gender pay gap may be that women are also more likely than men to have childcare responsibilities and to take career breaks.
It is therefore important for employers to report their gender pay gap information to understand, firstly, whether they have a gender pay gap, and if so, what the reasons are behind this and how it can be addressed.
It is important to note that the gender pay gap is not the same as failing to pay men and women equally for work of equivalent value, although this form of discrimination is likely to be a significant contributor to the gender pay gap. An employer’s gender pay gap data looks at the company as a whole, rather than focussing on specific individuals.
For those employers who have not yet reported their gender pay gap information, there is a risk that the EHRC will take enforcement action against them, which could ultimately result in a fine; in addition to this, the details of any employer that the EHRC investigates will be made publicly available on its website.