From this month, thousands of companies will begin publishing reports on the disparity of earnings between genders. Whether voluntary, private, or public sector, employers with 250 or more employees will be required to publish their figures by April 2018.
The UK is one of the first countries to implement a scheme like this, and while the gender pay gap was at a record ‘low’ of 18.1% in 2016 (all employees, full-time and part-time), one analysis by Deloitte estimates that at this pace the pay gap will not be eradicated until 2069 – 99 years after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act.
The new regulations are timely considering the report published by the BBC detailing that men in the organisation are earning 10.4% more than their female counterparts. It was also revealed that as of 31st December 2016, there were 334 women earning £75,000 or above as of 31st December 2016, compared to 615 men.
Under the new GPGR Regulations, an employer must produce mean and median figures from pay and bonus gaps, the proportion of male and female staff receiving bonuses, and the number of male and female employees in four equally-sized pay quartiles. The figures must be published on the organisation’s website as well as a Government site by 4th April 2018 – although ACAS is encouraging employers to publish their results as soon as possible. However, it will remain to be seen how the data will be presented and manipulated.
Employers may also consider voluntarily publishing more meaningful analyses which include comparative groups such as gender pay differences between job grades, job levels or pay bands. In any case, employers should begin to put in place measures to equalise their gender pay gaps such as initiatives to encourage the career development and progression of female staff, sending managers to unconscious bias training, and normalising paternity leave and its allowances as a viable alternative to maternity leave (the so-called motherhood pay gap). A much higher proportion of women work part-time, and part-time employees (of all genders) earn less per hour on average than full-time employees.
While it is likely to take a while until large-scale employers release their figures, and it is improbable that the gender earnings gap will reduce by any significant number in the UK soon, hopefully these new rules will shed a much-needed spotlight on these discrepancies so that employers as well as their employees can recognise the scale of the problem and take proper action to create fair income standards between genders and between mothers and fathers.