The deadline for the second year’s gender pay gap reports has now passed, with roughly the same number of employers as last year’s total meeting the deadline (and almost half of them doing so in the last week). Just over half of private companies have reported gaps that are higher or no lower than last year’s, which is unsurprising given that, even if employers have taken measures to narrow the gap, these are likely to take time to show results. However, commentators have used the lack of progress to urge the Government to make mandatory the publication of action plans to narrow the gap, a call that to date has been resisted by the Government (see here).
There is plenty of guidance available for employers looking for ways to try and improve their figures for next year. In addition to recommendations from the EHRC and a parliamentary select committee (see here), the Government Equalities Office recently published two sets of guidance, Eight ways to understand your gender pay gap and Four steps to developing a gender pay gap action plan, along with an action note and infographic summarising the evidence based actions employers can take to support women to progress, to help to close the gender pay gap and increase gender equality in the workplace. The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group have also launched How to recruit women for the 21st Century (see here for further details) which, among other recommendations, calls on the government to commission or publish new guidance for employers on positive action.
Employers are not currently required to report on the ethnicity pay gap; a Government consultation on introducing such a duty closed at the end of January 2019 and its response is awaited. In the meantime, a number of large employers have signed up to a pledge to report voluntarily, organised by Involve, which has published a Framework for Ethnicity Pay Gap Reporting to assist employers – available here.
Several important employment law reforms have come into force recently or will come into force shortly, both at the EU and French level. Below are some of the changes to expect for 2019:
With the second deadline for gender pay gap reports a month away, more guidance has been published (in addition to that covered here). The Government Equalities Office has published two sets of guidance, Eight ways to understand your gender pay gap and Four steps to developing a gender pay gap action plan, to help employers close their gender pay gaps. The first proposes a set of questions focussing on potential gender imbalance in recruitment, promotion or retention, starting salaries/other particular aspects of pay, or performance rating. It also suggests that employers ask whether there is sufficient support for part-time employees to progress, and whether both men and women with caring responsibilities are supported, stating that employers may wish to enhance pay for shared parental leave to encourage men to take it and to advertise all jobs as flexible by default. The second guide highlights the need for buy-in from senior people and the involvement of a wide range of stakeholders in developing an action plan, and emphasises the need for specific, time-bound targets and a named individual to drive the plan forward.
The Women and Work All Party Parliamentary Group has also launched How to recruit women for the 21st Century, a new toolkit to support female progression in the workplace. Suggestions include the introduction of name-blind and context-blind applications, avoiding asking applicants about their current salary, and adopting a flexible working culture to improve the pipeline. It also calls on the government to commission or publish new guidance for employers on positive action.
The Labour Party has pointed to more flexible work as essential to close the gender pay gap, to facilitate working women and also encourage caring responsibilities to be spread more equally across the genders. Dawn Butler has stated that Labour would give employees the right to work flexibly from day one of a job (currently the right to request flexible work is available after 26 weeks) and create a presumption that work can be done flexibly which it would be for employers to rebut.
A recent law (law n°2018-771 dated 5 September 2018) has implemented a new obligation for companies of more than 50 employees to publish each year (through their website or by any means as long as their employees are informed of this) specific indicators relating to any potential pay gap or different treatment between men and women which exist within the company in France, and the measures which will be implemented in order to reduce such gap or differences.
This law provides for different types of indicators to identify the pay gap (e.g., differences in pay, pay rises, promotion statistics, etc.) depending on whether companies have more than 1,000 employees, between 251 and 999 employees, and between 50 and 250 employees.
As the second deadline for reports approaches, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has published a report urging employers to accompany their figures with narrative reports and action plans with concrete, time-bound target-driven activities to reduce the gap. The report highlights ideas for action and recommends employers to refer to the Government Equalities Office evidence-based guide on practical steps to close the gender pay gap (discussed in our blog post here).
The Government has also published its formal response to the House of Commons BEIS Committee’s report (see our blog post here) on gender pay gap reporting, clearly signalling that it is not planning any immediate changes to the regime and will await the statutory review scheduled for 5 years post-implementation.
The Government Equalities Office has published a summary of the 2017/18 gender pay gap data submitted by employers as at May 2018, along with an Interim Gender Pay Gap Employer Insights Survey conducted at the end of 2017. The summary estimates that 48% of in-scope employers published an action plan in the first year of the duty (based on a sample of 400 employers) and 90% had produced a narrative to explain their figures. Only 17% of employers surveyed reported finding the GPG calculations difficult, yet according to analysis by Staffmetrix, employers are continuing to have problems: one in four of those who have submitted their 2018/19 data already have failed to fully comply with the requirements.
A survey by the Equality and Human Rights Commission has found that 61% of women look at employers’ gender pay gaps when applying for jobs.
Meanwhile the Office for National Statistics has reported some positive news. In the year to April 2018, the national gender pay gap fell from 9.1% to 8.6% for full-time workers, with the gap insignificant for those aged under 39, although it widens considerably for older age groups.
The Government has published a consultation on ethnicity pay reporting, making clear its position that this should become mandatory (possibly subject to a trial or phased approach with ‘early adopters’). The consultation is open until 11 January 2019.
The consultation is a response to a one-year-on review of progress made following the 2017 McGregor-Smith independent review. The 2017 report recommended introducing a mandatory reporting duty, but the Government’s preferred response at that time was to encourage voluntary reporting and monitor progress. Since then, both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee recommended consultation on a mandatory duty to report ethnicity pay gap data. Given the limited voluntary progress made in the last 12 months, the government has now agreed that a mandatory duty is required. (The review found that only 11% of employees had their ethnicity pay data collected; EHRC research published in August 2018 found that only 36% of employers collect and analyse data to identify any differences in pay and progression between different ethnic groups, and very few publish that pay gap data.) Continue reading
On 2 August 2018 the House of Commons’ Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee published a report on the gender pay gap reporting obligation introduced from April 2017. The report notes that the national median gender pay gap is 18.4%, but 13% of those reporting had gaps in excess of 30% and gaps of 40% or more were not uncommon in some sectors (which the Chair described as “obscene and entirely unacceptable”). 78% of all reporting organisations had a pay gap in favour of men. The report calls for quicker and more effective action to close the gender pay gap and recommends that the Government adds the following requirements to the regulations, to apply to reports published in April 2019: Continue reading
On 1 August 2018 the Government Equalities Office (GEO) confirmed that 100% of employers covered by the new gender pay gap reporting obligation have now published their first report (disclosing data as at April 2017). The Equalities and Human Rights Commission noted that it would now be turning its attention to the accuracy of reporting, amidst suggestions that as many as one in six organisations may have reported incorrectly (see here).
The GEO also published new guidance on the effectiveness of various approaches to reduce the gap, in order to help employers create more effective action plans (although of course the specific actions adopted should be tailored to the particular causes of an individual employer’s gender pay gap). The actions on which there is evidence indicating a positive impact are: Continue reading