The Government Equalities Office has recommended extending the gender pay gap reporting initiative to include small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Currently, only employers with 250 employees or more are required by law to publish their gender pay gap figures on their website and report their pay gap data to the government via its gender pay gap reporting service.
Hilary Spencer, Director of the Government Equalities Office, told the Treasury Select Committee: ‘There’s a number of ways we could take reporting in the future. One option is to lower the threshold, another option is to ask for more data on gender, and another is to ask for data about different characteristics.
‘We’re putting advice to ministers on ways we can take this forward, including ethnicity pay gap reporting.’
A range of proposals have been outlined, including expanding the range of data collected and giving the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) additional powers to issue immediate fines to businesses that fail to comply with the reporting requirements.
A survey carried out by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) has suggested that awareness of the gender pay gap reporting requirements is ‘low’.
The survey of 940 business leaders revealed that only 37% were aware that their business published gender pay gap data. A further 12% stated that their firm does not have an action plan in place to tackle their gender pay gap.
The deadline for large businesses to publish their gender pay gap data is midnight on 4 April. Businesses with 250 employees or more are required by law to publish their gender pay gap figures on their website. Firms must also report their data to the government via its gender pay gap reporting service.
Voluntary and private sector employers with 250 employees or more must publish their figures by midnight on 4 April 2019. Public sector employers were required to publish their figures by 30 March 2019.
Businesses who fail to comply with the requirements will face ‘unlimited fines’ and enforcement action from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).
‘Despite all the talk, there’s still too little action in the workplace to close the gender pay gap,’ said Ann Francke, Chief Executive of the CMI.
‘It’s time for transparency with teeth, including mandatory action plans and progress reports, in line with the UK governance code, as well as consequences for those organisations that don’t comply.’
The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has published advice designed to help UK businesses to reduce their gender pay gap.
The documents contain advice on which pieces of information employers must publish in relation to their gender pay gap, and how to make the calculations needed to report gender pay gap data.
Additionally, the GEO also published guidance for firms on creating an ‘effective action plan’, and how they can help to reduce their gender pay gap.
Businesses with 250 employees or more are required by law to publish their gender pay gap figures on their website. Firms must also report their data to the government via its gender pay gap reporting service.
Voluntary and private sector employers with 250 employees or more must publish their figures by midnight on 4 April 2019. Public sector employers are required to publish their figures by 30 March 2019.
‘The gender pay gap is at its lowest level on record, but that is still not good enough if we want to achieve real gender equality in the workplace,’ said Victoria Atkins, Minister for Women.
‘We want employers to understand the causes of their gender pay gap and create action plans that will close those gaps for good.’
A survey carried out by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has suggested that 93% of UK firms are ‘actively tackling’ their gender pay gap.
The survey of 350 businesses revealed that 60% of firms believe that diversity helps them to attract and retain staff, and a further 50% said it has brought new skills and capabilities into their workforce.
According to the survey, 50% of respondents are seeking to improve gender diversity in ‘all levels’ of their business.
Commenting on the CBI’s findings, Ben Willmott, Head of Public Policy at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD), said: ‘For the most part, employers are focusing on improving progression opportunities and on workplace diversity, which are positive steps. But there’s scope to go further, particularly on improving the gender balance in senior roles.’
As part of the second round of gender pay gap reporting, businesses and organisations are required to provide information on their gender pay gap by specific deadlines. Public sector organisations must publish and submit their data to the government by 30 March 2019, whilst businesses and charities must publish and submit by 4 April 2019.
Data published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed that the gender pay gap has fallen to its ‘lowest level yet’.
The statistics showed that, in the year to April 2018, the gender pay gap for full-time employees fell to 8.6%, from its previous figure of 9.1%.
However, experts have warned that the gap is ‘closing too slowly’.
Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of the Fawcett Society, said: ‘This slow rate of progress means without significant action, women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men.’
Meanwhile, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) stated that, at the current rate of progress, it will take around 55 years to achieve pay parity between men and women.
The TUC has urged the government to ‘crank up the pressure’ on UK employers, and called for companies to be required by law to ‘explain how they’ll close’ their pay gaps.
A report published by the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) Committee has stated that the gender pay gap reporting initiative should be extended to include firms with 50 employees or more.
MPs have suggested that small businesses are ‘more likely to show a greater gender pay gap’ and should, therefore, be encouraged to report their pay gap information.
Currently, only businesses with 250 employees or more are required by law to publish their gender pay gap figures on their website and report their pay gap data to the government via its gender pay gap reporting service.
The BEIS Committee’s report was compiled from information gathered from all 10,000 UK employers who were recently required to report their gender pay gap information.
The first round of statutory gender pay gap reporting revealed significant disparities in the rates of pay for men and women. Some 78% of employers have pay gaps in favour of men, according to the data.
The BEIS Committee is calling for employers to publish annual gender pay gap progress reports, alongside comprehensive ‘action plans’, outlining the steps they will take to help close their pay gap.
Rachel Reeves, Chair of the BEIS Committee, said that the next step should be for employers to analyse ‘why they have a pay gap, and then determine the right initiatives, policies and practices to close it’.
Data published by the Government Equalities Office has suggested that 77% of UK firms who have unveiled their gender pay gap figures pay male employees more than female employees.
New rules introduced from 6 April 2017 mean that large businesses are required by law to publish their gender pay gap figures on their website. Voluntary and private sector employers with 250 employees or more must publish their figures by 4 April 2018. Public sector employers must publish their figures by 30 March 2018.
The data found that around 14% of firms pay women more than men, and 8% have ‘no gender pay gap at all’.
The Government Equalities Office also revealed that more than 6,000 businesses are yet to publish their gender pay gap figures. Businesses who fail to report their figures before the deadline could face legal action, the government warned.
Commenting on the data, a Home Office spokesperson said: ‘This government is clear that tackling injustices like the gender pay gap is part of building a country that works for everyone. Shining a light on where women are being held back means employers can begin to take action.’