Gender pay gap reporting suspended due to COVID-19

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have announced they are lifting April 2020’s deadline for mandatory gender pay gap reporting.

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The joint statement means that there is currently now “no expectation” on employers covered by the law “to report their data” for 2019/20.However, the GEO will continue to provide support to employers in reporting their data.

Enforcement of gender pay gap reporting suspended

Citing the current COVID-19 pandemic, the Minister for Women & Equalities, Liz Truss, and EHRC Chair, David Isaac, said:“We recognise that employers across the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty and pressure at this time. Because of this we feel it is only right to suspend enforcement of gender pay gap reporting this year.”Under normal circumstances, the EHRC can investigate employers who fail to report their gender pay gap data and face an unlimited fine after court action.

HR representatives welcome the suspension

The CIPD, the professional body for HR and people development, welcomed the relaxation of this year's gender pay gap reporting requirements in recognition of the pressure employers are under. It is encouraging organisations to continue reporting if they can.Charles Cotton, senior reward advisor at the CIPD, comments:"The Government’s decision to relax this year’s gender pay gap reporting deadline is testimony to the incredible and unprecedented pressure that organisations, and the HR profession in particular, are under."Keeping our workforces safe and paid, as well as supporting new working practices to help businesses survive, must remain the priority throughout this crisis."

Caution urged over pandemic's disproportionate impact

However, in the longer term, the CIPD is calling on companies to continue to honour their reporting commitments."The Coronavirus stands to have a disproportionate impact on women in the labour market, because of the high proportion of women working in retail and hospitality. This makes it more important than ever that we don’t take our eye off the ball and risk losing momentum in our efforts to close the gender pay gap."Given the reporting data is based on a snapshot date in April last year, most employers will already have the data already, and most of their narrative too. It should just be a question of delaying their reporting to when the current crisis has passed."

Most offer some supporting narrative

Over 11,000 companies reported in previous years under legislation that aims to shine a light on the pay disparities between males and females in the UK’s largest companies.Now three years after gender pay gap reporting was introduced, employers are also being encouraged to add a narrative around the reasons for discrepancies.Of the 3,412 employers - 26% of those the government expects to report - reporting ahead of the deadline, 2,268 employers have followed guidance and reported additional material, according to the Gender Pay Gap Service website.

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