Tue 02 Mar 2021

EHRC announces six month suspension of enforcement action on gender pay gap reporting

This article has been updated as of 22 April 2021. As we reported in the last Equality News, gender pay gap reporting was suspended in 2020 but reporting for 2021 was expected to go ahead. However, it that enforcement of the reporting requirement was suspended for 2021 but only for a period of 6 months.

While employers were still encouraged to meet the 30 March (public sector) and 4 April (larger private and voluntary organisations) deadlines the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has confirmed no enforcement action will be undertaken until 5 October.  The suspension is once again because of the impact of Covid-19. The suspension essentially means that employers who require to report have until 5 October to do so.

The suspension relates to gender pay gap information for the 20/21 reporting year which uses snap shot dates of 31 March 2020 (public sector) and 5 April 2020 (larger private and voluntary organisations). Based on the 50% of employers who did report in April 2020 the gender pay gap increased by nearly 1% last year. In terms of what we will see this year, the overall situation will be impacted by COVID-19 given that the furlough scheme had started by the snap shot dates.

It has been widely reported that the pandemic has had an inequitable impact on women in the workplace, with more women than men being furloughed. However, the Gender Pay Gap Information Regulations require employers to omit from their pay-gap calculations any employees who were on a reduced rate of pay on the snapshot date and this includes those on furlough. It is likely that this will have an impact on the figures as many female workers will be omitted.

Many commentators feel that now is not the time to take the 'foot off the pedal' in terms of tackling the gender pay gap. However, EHRC has said that starting its legal process in October "strikes the right balance" between supporting organisations through the pandemic and enforcing the law. EHRC has also published guidance on gender pay gap reporting in the context of COVID-19 which can be found here.

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