With just 56 days to go before qualifying organisations need to submit their gender pay gap reporting, new figures have revealed that submissions are barely 50% what they were this time last year – and some are blaming confusing government advice as the reason.
As of midnight on 27 January, only 362 businesses had submitted their gender pay gap data. This compares to the 795 reports that were filed by this time last year, and 748 submitted by the same point in 2019.
Last year, the government suspended its enforcement of the April 2020 deadline because of the first UK lockdown, but this year organisations have been instructed to submit the information or face large fines. But, according to pay gap analysis company Spktral, the government has not been clear about insisting the data is submitted and it blames misleading advice too.
A spokesperson said: “Organisations we speak to tell us they don’t believe they have to report their gap this year because of furloughed employees. Some think having furloughed employees takes their headcount to below 250 and so it excludes them, while others think that if all staff are furloughed nobody needs reporting. The fact is, both beliefs are incorrect.”
It added: “Furloughed employees are still employees, therefore headcount is not affected; and although furloughed employees can be excluded for the pay gap part of the report – providing they received zero or less than normal pay due to being on furlough – they are still eligible for the bonus gap part of the report.”
In its most recent guidance of 14 December 2020, the Government Equalities Office issued updates to the calculation of pay-gap reporting, including saying firms should refer to furloughed employees for the purposes of gender pay gap reporting.
It said furloughed staff should not be deducted from headcount, while gender pay gap and salary quartile bands should be calculated based on full pay.
The Government Equalities Office said furloughed staff should only be excluded from calculations if employees’ salaries were not topped up by the employer. It also confirmed that all furloughed employees will need to be included for gender bonus gap calculations.