Gender Pay Gap Reporting
Solicitor Natalie Ruane discusses gender pay gap reporting.
In December, MPs voted on implementing legislation which would require larger UK employers to reveal the gap between what they pay male and female workers. Although statistics appear to show that the gender pay gap in 2014 was at its lowest level since official records began, the gap (which the Office for National Statistics suggests is around £100 per week) still means that women earn significantly less over their working life than a man doing an equivalent role.
As one of the ways to try and reduce that gap, the Equality Act 2010 contained provisions which allowed the Government to make regulations which could force employers with more than 250 members of staff to conduct pay audits and to report on any pay gap identified by those audits.
The Coalition Government decided not to use those powers and opted for a scheme of voluntary reporting instead. However very few employers have voluntarily undertaken audits and/or reported on their findings so, in December 2014, a motion was put before Parliament which asked MPs to vote to implement the reporting legislation. The vote was successful.
Although the likelihood of reporting requirements is something that employers will need to be mindful of in the future, there is currently no timescale for this change. With an election looming later this year, it is unlikely that gender pay gap reporting will make it into law before the summer but the December vote indicates a clear willingness on the part of the UK Parliament to impose more stringent requirements and anyone employing more than 250 people needs to be mindful of the effects that this might have. In particular, employers may wish to consider starting to undertake audits sooner rather than later so that any equal pay issues can be identified and addressed before reporting is mandatory and claims start to arrive.
About the author
Natalie leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.