Following the women's march over the weekend, in which
hundreds of thousands of women globally took to the streets to
march for women's rights, it seems apt that only last
week the Government published the draft Equality Act 2010
(Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017.
The draft regulations extend the duty to publish annual gender
pay gap reports to public sector employers with over 250 employees.
The draft regulations broadly reflect the draft gender pay gap
regulations published in December last year, which apply to private
sector employers with over 250 employees.
However, there are a couple of key differences. Specifically,
the public sector duty will take effect as part of the existing
public-sector equality duty, rather than as a standalone
requirement. Whilst the stipulated 'snapshot' date for
relevant private sector employers is 5 April, the
'snapshot' date for public sector employers will be 31
As we've previously noted, the Government's response
paper issued in December did deal with a number of the outstanding
issues relating to gender pay gap reporting. However, there are
still unanswered questions and it is hoped that the Government will
issue further guidance before the gender pay gap regulations come
into force. It is currently anticipated that they will come into
force by April 2017.
Employers should be carefully considering whether or not they
are likely to be caught by the new regulations and be carrying out
some initial analysis to determine what their gender pay gap is
likely to look like. Employers may wish to consider whether there
could be a benefit to changing bonus structures or bonus payment
dates under any plans they operate, if their current arrangements
are likely to inflate their pay gap.
Ultimately the aim of gender pay gap reporting is for employers
to show that they are making progress in closing their gender pay
gap, year on year. Employers will be assessed against their
industry peers, and websites have already been set up to enable
stakeholders to undertake a comparison exercise. Whilst voluntary
under the current draft regulations, narratives could be a
useful tool for employers to explain any pay gaps and to set out
what steps they are taking to improve their statistics.
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