Guides published for gender pay reporting and apprentice levy

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced guidance for employers facing the apprenticeship levy and the new gender pay gap reporting which come into force in April 2017.

Guides published for gender pay reporting and apprentice levy
With the first 'snapshot date' for gender pay gap reporting coming into effect this week, along with the introduction of the apprenticeship levy for many businesses, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) has produced guidance for employers facing these statutory requirements.

What is gender pay gap reporting?

The gender pay gap reporting – part of a government effort to reduce the persistent pay gap between the sexes – requires all private and voluntary sector employers with more than 250 employees in England, Scotland and Wales to calculate their gender pay and bonus differentials and then publicly publish the information before April 5 the following year. Similar rules apply to employers in the public sector.Charles Cotton, performance and reward adviser at the CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, commented, “With fewer than one in three employers carrying out any analysis of the pay of men and women, we should appreciate that the gender pay gap reporting (GPGR) requirements are set to be a major change for many UK employers.“However, it’s important that organisations recognise the opportunity presented by GPGR. It’s not just about reporting the right figures, at the right time and in the right way. It’s also an opportunity to explore why the gap exists and looking at what practical steps can be taken to reduce it, as well as creating a compelling narrative for employees and other stakeholders about what you’re doing and how.“Our guide shows that there are many potential advantages for employees, business, society and the economy in reducing the gender pay gap. However, some of the causes lie outside the workplace, so government and society also have an important part to play.”His comments come at a time when a recent study revealed that over a third of women think that the gender pay gap is "out of their hands," as we reported earlier this month.

No plans to improve opportunities for women

CIPD research last year found that only 28 per cent of companies conducted any analysis of pay differentials between men and women, and fewer than half (44 per cent) said they had no specific plans to improve opportunities for women over the coming year.Among those employers that were planning action to improve the gender balance, the most popular remedies included improving flexible working opportunities, developing more inclusive recruitment practices and introducing mentoring to help women progress into more senior roles.Only five per cent of employers said their organisations had developed links with schools or colleges as a means of improving the gender balance in certain occupations or sectors.Stefan Martin, employment partner at Hogan Lovells, counselled, “While employers may be reluctant to be the first to disclose this information – particularly if their gender pay gap is sizeable – a protracted delay in publishing pay gap figures may risk damaging trust in their commitment to equality.”

The apprenticeship levy

On the apprenticeship levy, which requires employers to invest in apprenticeships – the size of the investment dependent on the size of the business – Elizabeth Crowley, CIPD skills adviser, said, “While the levy has certainly helped to put improved training and development on the radar for many businesses, there is still a way to go before the majority of apprenticeships in the UK really do provide a meaningful, high-quality vocational pathway into employment that is a genuine alternative to university.“Our research suggests that the apprenticeship levy in its current form may undermine efforts to improve the quality of apprenticeships and risks diverting spending from other valuable forms of training. For example, it seems that some organisations may effectively re-badge existing training schemes as apprenticeships to reclaim levy funding, and others could invest in intermediate level apprenticeships at the expense of advanced and higher level programmes to maximise funding.“It’s therefore important that activities are closely monitored – particularly in the early stages – and any problems ironed out early, in order that apprenticeships can be allowed to grow in quality as well as quantity, and start to be regarded as a meaningful alternative to university. Over time we hope that the Levy is widened out to include other forms of skills development and training, helping to counteract the long-term decline in employer investment and lead to an increase in the quality of skills development and apprenticeships programmes.“This should be supported by building more strategic partnerships between education and training providers and employers at a local level, focused on ensuring learners develop the skills employers need both now and as skills requirements change.”More information on apprenticeships can be found in the new Relocate Global Guide to Education & Schools in the UK
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CIPD research in 2016 found that, while 35 per cent of employers supported the principle of the levy, more than a quarter opposed it and 38 per cent were uncertain where they stood regarding its implementation, with more than a quarter not knowing if they would have to pay the levy and almost a third not knowing how much it would cost them.Only nine per cent of employers expected to use levy funding to develop new apprenticeship programmes, and only 18 per cent expected to use it to enhance existing apprenticeship programmes.Additionally, more than a third said imposition of the levy would force them to reduce investment in other areas of workforce development.For related news and features, visit our HR section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit