Gender pay gap reporting enforcement delayed until 5 October 2021

Posted on: March 12th, 2021

The past year has presented many unprecedented challenges for employers who have had to adapt entire working practices as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Most have transitioned to working remotely, many have made use of the furlough scheme, and more recently, with the announcement of workplaces re-opening in June, employers are having to carefully navigate the return to work, ensuring that this is done in the safest way for everyone involved.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (‘EHRC’) have recognised these ongoing issues by allowing employers an additional 6 months to report their gender pay gap information before taking any enforcement action. This announcement will give some employers a welcome reprieve to deal with these obligations alongside managing the return to the workplace and the end of the furlough scheme in October.

A reminder on gender pay gap reporting

There is a legal requirement on organisations with 250 or more staff to publish information about the differences in male and female pay within their business at different levels of seniority. The idea being that increasing pay transparency will lead to employers taking more action to address pay inequality. If organisations fail to comply with the regulations, the ECHR have the power to investigate and fine these businesses, with more serious infringements potentially leading to court action and damage to reputation.

The key dates that employers should be aware of are the 5 April (for private sector employers) and 31 March (for public sector employers) which is the ‘snapshot date’. The gender pay gap information publication date is based on the snapshot date and must be no later than 4 April (for private sector employers) or 30 March (for public sector employers) the following year.

As a reminder, the information an organisation must publish as part of their gender pay gap reporting is as follows:

  • The difference between the mean and median hourly rate of pay between male full-pay relevant employees and female full-pay relevant employees in the pay period within which the snapshot date falls.
  • The difference between the mean and median bonus pay paid to male relevant employees and that paid to female relevant employees in the 12-month period ending on the snapshot date.
  • The proportions of male and female relevant employees who were paid bonus pay in the 12-month period ending on the snapshot date.
  • The proportions of male and female full-pay relevant employees who were in the lower, lower middle, upper middle and upper quartile pay bands in the pay period within which the snapshot date falls.

During the first lockdown in March last year, enforcement was suspended entirely for the 2019/20 reporting year to alleviate pressure on businesses as they grappled with the unique effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

When should employers report for the 2020/21 year?

Prior to the EHRC announcement, gender pay gap information was due to be published by 30 March 2021 for most public authority employers, or 4 April 2021 for private, voluntary and all other public authority employers. This reporting is to be based on a ‘snapshot date’ of the 31 March 2020 and 5 April 2020 respectively.

The EHRC have extended this deadline until the 5 October 2021, giving employers an extension of time to collate and report this information, alongside managing the ongoing effects of the pandemic. Whilst organisations are still being encouraged to release this data at the earliest opportunity, employers will be given a 6 month reprieve before any enforcement action is taken against them.

Reporting should be done in the usual way via the Gender Pay Gap Service and the information should be accessible via the organisation’s website.

What about the impacts of furlough?

The ECHR have published guidance found here on gender pay gap reporting for 2020/21 for employers who have had to temporarily change their workforce as a result of the pandemic, specifically focusing on the implications of the furlough scheme.

The guidance makes clear that you must include all furloughed employees when determining whether your headcount exceeds 250. However, in terms of your reporting calculations, you must only include details of the furloughed employees whose pay was topped up to their usual full pay and must exclude all employees who were receiving less than full pay. All other reporting requirements remain unchanged as a result of this scheme.

Crunching the numbers in this way will obviously impact the results produced and therefore it may be sensible when reporting to add some specific commentary or context to address this.

If you have any queries on your gender pay gap reporting obligations, or would like some employment advice more generally, please do get in touch with our Employment Team who would be happy to help.