UK: Diversity Developments – presentation of pay gap data, proposals on parental leave and dress code guidance
- The Government Equalities Office has published the findings of a commissioned study (here) concluding that the clearest and most accessible way of presenting gender pay gap figures is to display them visually as coins or as the amount which women earn for every £1 men earn (rather than percentages). The latter approach has now been added to the data on the government’s pay gap website, which also now includes bar charts to show the gender split by pay quartile and displays an employer’s data all on one page. The study also found that benchmarking improved comprehension, so may lead to pressure on the government to add visual benchmarking to the published data in future.
- The government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Committee report on Fathers and the Workplace. The Committee’s recommendations included for paternity leave to be made a ‘day one’ right, improved paternity pay and time off for antenatal appointments, and the replacement of shared parental leave with an additional 12 weeks’ paternal leave. The government’s response is to state that further consultation is needed. A Maternity and Paternity Rights Survey is planned and a taskforce is also examining the issue of flexible working. Further details are available here.
- A Private Members’ Bill with cross-party support has been introduced to parliament to require employers with more than 250 employees to publish information on their leave and pay policies for parents (including all the different types of leave available in connection with parenthood of a child under 18). The draft draws from the gender pay gap obligations, requiring a statement of policy accompanied by a written statement (confirming its accuracy and signed by a director or equivalent) to be published on the employer’s website and on the government’s gender pay gap website. However, in contrast to the gender pay gap regulations, the draft includes express enforcement powers for the HMRC to impose non-compliance and penalty notices (for a fine of up to £5,000).
- The Department of Health has published an action plan to help in-work carers over the next two years. This includes promotion of flexible working best practice, a toolkit for returners to be published this summer, a review of the current right to request flexible working in 2019, a carer-friendly employer benchmarking scheme to be introduced from July 2018, and the consideration with BEIS of the question of dedicated employment rights for carers to sit alongside existing employment rights.
- The Government Equalities Office has published guidance on dress codes. The (perhaps overly) brief guidance makes clear that a requirement to wear high heels, make-up, skirts or provocative dress is likely to be unlawful, as is prohibiting religious symbols that do not interfere with an employee’s work.