Thousands of companies have yet to report their gender pay gap before today’s extended deadline (5 October), latest figures have revealed.
According to the government’s gender pay gap reporting service, around one in four (73%) still have not submitted this information on the website despite being legally required to do so.
Laws requiring employers with 250 or more employees to publish data on their gender pay gaps came into effect in 2017. This includes six separate calculations detailing the difference between male and female pay and bonuses.
The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the body responsible for enforcing the requirement, has reminded employers of the deadline after it was moved from April to October as a result of the Covid-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic.
To help businesses as they coped with the impact of the pandemic, enforcement for 2019/20 was suspended entirely, while the deadline was extended for 2020/21 – which focuses on a snapshot date of 31 March 2020 or 5 April 2020 for public and private sector employers respectively.
Kishwer Falkner, chair of the EHRC, said: “Businesses are facing challenging times but it is still important that they comply with the law and report their gender pay gap. We have delayed our legal enforcement to strike a balance between supporting businesses and enforcing their obligations.
“Employers that don’t report their gender pay gap risk letting down the women who work for them and damaging their reputation. Publishing and monitoring pay gaps helps employers and their employees to see if there is a pay gap and explore how to address it.”
On the morning of today’s deadline, only 8,500 out of an estimated 11,000 employers (77%) had submitted their gender pay gap report to the government. Employers also have to publish their report on their own website.
Ann Francke, chief executive of Chartered Management Institute, said: “The pandemic has set women back even further in the workplace so it’s urgent that organisations report and develop action plans.
“To see so many firms leaving their reporting right up to the deadline is disappointing. Many will no doubt be late. It suggests that far too often gender pay isn’t top of the corporate agenda and that it’s something of an after-thought. This isn’t right.”
The EHRC has the power to seek a court order requiring any employer breaching the reporting requirements to remedy the breach. Failing to comply with the court order is an offence, punishable with an unlimited fine if convicted, and details employer that are investigated is made publicly available.
Corinne Aldridge, head of employment at law firm Kingsley Napley, said: “The government already extended the 2020/2021 deadline due to the Covid pandemic, a delay that has been criticised by some for giving the impression gender pay needn’t be top of employers’ priority list. For any employer who hasn’t already prepared the data, the threat of EHRC action should encourage them to expedite the process as soon as possible in order to meet their legal obligation.”
The ONS said the national gender pay gap for full-time employees fell from 9.0% in April 2019 to 7.4% in April 2020, but experts have warned that pay gap percentages may be affected by furlough and that they should not be taken at face value.