Advice by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula
The requirement for businesses to publish gender pay gap reports was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19. However, gender pay reporting is back on the agenda for 2021, so is there anything new that employers need to know?
The gender pay gap, the difference in the average earnings between men and women, has been a significant cause for concern for many decades. Usually felt by women, and while it shows signs of closing, the gap remains a symbol of inequality between the sexes.
In an attempt to address this, the Government introduced an obligation on employers with at least 250 members of staff to publish data on the salary of their male and female employees annually – a ‘snapshot’ of their gender pay data.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for 2019/20, meaning there was no expectation on employers to report their data.
The Government has since confirmed that gender pay gap reporting will return and that eligible employers in the private sector will need to produce a report by 4 April 2021. The report deadline set at 30 March 2021 for the public sector.
Government guidance goes on to say that for employers’ 2021 reports, they should:
- focus on the ‘snapshot’ date of 5 April 2020 in the private sector
- focus on the ‘snapshot’ date of 31 March 2020 in the public sector
- take furloughed staff into account when considering whether their business meets the requirement of having at least 250 staff on the snapshot date and is required to produce a report
- not include employees in the ‘reporting pool’ if they were not on full pay on the ‘snapshot’ date – meaning that any member of staff who was furloughed, and who did not have their pay topped up to 100%, can be discounted from the report for the purposes of hourly pay calculations
- include furloughed staff in any calculations relating to bonus pay, regardless of whether their salary was “topped up” to 100% or not.
Due to the impact of coronavirus, employers may find that the results produced by their report show an increase, or decrease, in the gap that may not be representative of reality.
With this in mind, it is crucial that any report produced is combined with a detailed explanation of the figures. If there is a substantial change, employers should explain that this is as a result of the number of staff on furlough or other coronavirus related impact.