Angharad Aspinall comments on recent ONS statistics, which revealed that the gender pay gap has widened for the first time in 6 years.
By assessing a 1% snapshot of all pay records at HMRC, the ONS has published its provisional statistics for the year, outlining that the gender pay gap for full-time employees has widened from 8.6% to 8.9%. Despite the growth in the pay gap, the ONS has warned that, in truth, it had never truly narrowed significantly in the past 6 years, with the gulf constricting by only 0.6% throughout that time.
Mandatory gender pay gap reporting for employers with over 250 employees was introduced on 6 April 2017. A similar regime for public sector employers was introduced in March the same year. These employers must publish their overall gender pay gap figures, calculated using the mean and median average hourly rate. Employers have the option to include a narrative, explaining any gaps and setting out what action, if any, they plan to take to address them. Although the narrative is optional, it is recommended to enable the employer to explain anomalies or circumstances perhaps leading to a higher than anticipated pay gap.
The Government is not required to review the gender pay gap regulations until at least 2021, at which time it must publish a report indicating whether the regulations meet the objective to reduce the gender pay gap. If the ONS figures continue to show a widening in the gap, it is likely that the Government will look to strengthen the gender pay gap reporting regime, for example, by introducing financial penalties for businesses who fail to report their gender pay gap calculations.
If you require any information on gender pay gap reporting, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.