Over 10,000 organisations employing over 250 employees have now published their pay gap data. To no-one’s surprise, the headline figures point to a significant gender pay gap in the UK.
The regulations required employers to report on the average pay of male and female employees in their organisation, calculated as a median and as a mean. The data published on the gender pay gap, therefore, shows only the difference between the average pay of men and the average pay of women, arguably a relatively crude method of review, albeit one that has grabbed plenty of headlines and for good reason.
Contrast this ‘broad brush’ approach with the legal concept of equal pay, which looks at what individual men and women are paid. Assessed as the difference between what individual men and women are paid, for carrying out the same or similar work, equal pay has been with us for far longer.
For individuals wanting to take action against suspected inequality in pay, it is getting much more attention in the wake of the publicity surrounding the gender pay gap reporting. Certainly, where employees are provided with evidence of a gender pay gap in their organisation, we anticipate an upsurge in claims for equal pay.
Getting ahead of ourselves
For those of us who are very organised, it’s not too early to start thinking about next year’s report. The ‘snapshot dates’ have now passed for the figures which need to be reported in 2019, and what better time to start thinking about the written narrative to go alongside your gender pay gap figures?
This would provide a valuable opportunity to put your figures in context, explain the reasons behind your results and start taking any actions which would reduce or eliminate the gender pay gap in future years.
Although little detail of enforcement of the regulations has been released, for those organisations which are required to report but have not yet done so, the Equality and Human Rights Commission has made clear that it intends to investigate. Suspected non-compliance will be met in the first instance with a letter requiring a response within 28 days and ultimately, the Commission has powers to apply to the court for an order requiring compliance.
Failure to comply could result in unlimited fines, although the Commission has also stated that it intends to publicise the names of those investigated for non-compliance – the adverse publicity of that could have a much wider impact on businesses.