Government research has found that, despite the introduction of the gender pay gap reporting regulations in April 2017, a third consider reducing the gender pay gap a low priority.

The report was commissioned by the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and provides evidence on:

  • employers understanding of the gender pay gap (GPG),
  • action employers are taking to close it; and
  • their response to the new GPG transparency regulations

Employers Understanding:

Although awareness of the terms “gender pay gap” was high at 98%, 41% were unclear as to how the gender pay gap was calculated.

The highest understanding was amongst public sector employers and those who employed 1,000 or more employees. The research also showed that there was some confusion amongst employers about the difference between the GPG and equal pay. GPG is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation or the labour market. It is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings. The current gender pay gap in Britain is 18.1%. Equal pay means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

Action employers are taking to close the GPG:

The research also found that a third of organisations had measured their GPG in the previous 12 months, as a dry run prior to the regulations coming into force. There was a definite correlation between size of organisation and measurement of GPG, ranging from 23 per cent of those with 250-499 employees up to 47 per cent of those with 1,000+ employees. It was also higher in the public sector (40 per cent).

The most common analysis carried out was calculating the proportions of men and women at different pay levels followed by measuring the proportion of men and women who were paid bonuses.  However just over 10%, either communicated or published their results.

Employer attitudes to reducing the GPG varied widely, with 24 per cent giving it a high priority, 37 per cent a medium priority and 33 per cent a low (or non) priority. Those treating it as a high priority were generally motivated by a desire to be fair, while a fifth identified the new regulations as the key driver.

Employers response to the GPG transparency regulations:

Although awareness of the new transparency regulations was high (88 per cent of employers reported that they knew about them), half of the employers surveyed had done relatively little preparation by the time of the survey. For instance, 30 per cent had reviewed the requirements but nothing more; 7 per cent had not thought about them at all; and 11 per cent were unaware of them. The remainder believed they were already in a position to meet the regulatory requirements (17 per cent) or had developed a plan for how they would do so (32 per cent).

The larger the employer, the more likely they were to have prepared for the regulations. As such, 60 per cent of those with 1,000+ employees reported that they were already able to meet them or had drawn up a plan, compared to just 42 per cent of those with 250-499 employees. Readiness was also greater in the public sector, with 62 per cent reporting that they were able to meet the regulations or with a plan in place to do so.

Just one in five employers intended to publish any additional information alongside the mandatory reporting, and in most cases this was a narrative commentary on the results (15 per cent). Private sector organisations were least inclined to go beyond the basic requirements, with 83 per cent either not planning to produce additional information or unsure as to whether they would do so.

Jo Seery, of Thompsons Solicitors, commented:

“With the deadline for reporting on the gender pay gap just five months away, the research shows that employers have a lot to do to meet their gender pay gap reporting obligations and put an action plan in place. We strongly urge employers to discuss their plans with workers and the trade unions.”

Click here to read the government report in more detail.