Last week, I mentioned that many employers had been forced to make tough decisions in order to stay in business as a result of Covid-19 (Coronavirus), including reducing the pay packet of individuals at their organisations and consequently pushing some staff into serious financial difficulty.
Indeed, as we reported earlier this week, research carried out by The Living Wage Foundation confirmed this. It found that more than two-thirds (67%) of full-time workers whose income is below the living wage had received pay cuts for reasons related to the pandemic.
This is even more worrying when you consider the groups most impacted. The report showed that the number of employees who experienced a pay cut rose to 74% among parents; 77% among those aged 18-34, and impacted 82% from Bame groups.
At the same time, it seems the government may well be suspending enforcement of gender pay gap reporting again this year, which would make it the second consecutive year the requirement has been shelved since its introduction in 2017. While there is no disputing that businesses have been hard hit by Coronavirus, it’s important to remember the reasons that mandatory pay gap reporting was introduced in the first place. And it was only last week that the government was calling for organisations to submit their data, recognising that they had received only half the number of submissions compared to the same time last year.
If the reporting suspension goes ahead, Sian Elliott, women’s equality lead at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), believes it would send a message to employers that pay equality is “a nice to have but not essential”. This is certainly a view shared by the Chartered Management Institute’s chief executive, Ann Francke, who insisted that reinstating gender pay gap reporting was “very urgent”.
At a time when many organisations have also started to voluntarily publish other data, such as their ethnicity pay gaps, it is certainly understandable why shelving reporting requirements could be viewed as a backwards step in the move towards achieving pay equality.