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Companies Must Publish Annual Gender Pay Gap Reports

Companies Must Publish Annual Gender Pay Gap Reports

New legislation requires employers at mid-sized and large companies to disclose data about average pay and bonuses within their organisation according to gender and to publish a new report every 12 months, in a bid for greater transparency in corporate progress on tackling gender pay gaps.

A recent survey of companies affected by the legislation suggests that just over a quarter (26%) of mid-sized companies with 250-999 employees, and just over half (51%) of big companies employing over 1,000 people have calculated their pay gaps and prepared their reports.

However, not all of these companies have published their findings, as many wait to see how others in their industry fare and seek to avoid sticking out as among the first to go public.

Over 500 businesses have now published their reports, with findings including that women were paid a lower mean hourly rate than men by 64.8% at womenswear brand Phase Eight, 52% at Easy Jet and 10.7% at the BBC.

New reports are ‘only one step forward’

However, the new measures have been criticised by some MPs for not going far enough.

Chair of the Commons Women and Equalities Select Committee Maria Miller said in Parliament that:

“Gender pay gap reporting is only one step forward”, and noted that small and medium-sized enterprises, which constitute “most of the business in this country . . . will not be affected by this legislation at all.”

Smaller companies of less than 250 employees are included in similar gender pay gap reports required in other EU countries.

An XpertHR survey that assessed feedback from companies affected by the legislation suggests that the measure had already led to encouraging progress on attitudes towards the gender gap, with 65% of companies stating that having compiled the report they would conduct further analysis, 45% pledging to develop an action plan for bridging their pay gap, 27% planning to review their recruitment processes, and 21% planning to review their promotion processes.

Brexit could affect gender pay laws

Meanwhile, government ministers are facing questions from the European Scrutiny Committee amid fears that Brexit will allow the government to avoid strict, new EU rules on equal pay and the gender pay gap that currently remain binding in the UK.

The committee said that current government policies to tackle the gender pay gap were insufficient, and “beg the question of whether and how the UK will maintain its own commitment after Brexit to reduce and eliminate the gender pay gap, in default of EU initiatives, supervision and enforcement mechanisms on equal pay.”

The EU unveiled new proposals for achieving equal pay in November, in which it set out policies to afford greater sanctions and compensation to victims of unequal pay. The measures would give workers in the EU the legally binding right to request information concerning equal pay from their companies and also force EU member states to uphold stronger enforcement measures against firms who do not align with the new rules.

Women’s Equality Party leader Sophie Walker said in a statement:

“The Government must not use Brexit to wriggle out of its responsibility to tackle the pay gap between men and women. The European Scrutiny Committee is right to pose this question, and the Government should now prove its commitment to addressing the factors that cause the gender pay gap.”

Ms Walker added that such a commitment “requires a crackdown on outright pay discrimination, as well as action to address the structural inequalities – such as the cost of childcare, the fact that women do the majority of unpaid care, a failure to make sure boys and girls are instilled with equal aspirations and opportunities – that lie beneath the pay gap.”

Employment law policies for businesses

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