Last month the Government launched an initial consultation, ‘Closing the Gender Pay Gap’, with a view to introducing regulations under Section 78 of the Act that will require employers in the private and voluntary sectors with at least 250 employees to publish information about the pay of their male and female workers.
According to data provided by the Office for National Statistics, the overall gender pay gap for all employees (19.1 per cent) is the lowest since records began in 1997, when the pay gap was 27.5 per cent. But the government would like to see the gap narrow ‘further and faster’.
At present the Equality Act 2010 requires public sector organisations to consider gender equality within their workplace as part of the Equality Duty and to publish relevant gender equality data, however, there is currently no requirement for employers in the private and voluntary sectors to do so, although the Equality Act 2010 (Equal Pay Audits) Regulations 2014 require an employer found to have breached the equal pay provisions of the Act to be ordered to carry out an equal pay audit.
The consultation questionnaire for responses asks employers to:
- identify which of three methods of showing the difference in pay of male and female workers they are currently able to calculate from existing data and systems; and
- give views on what additional information should be provided by employers, how often and at what point in the year the data should be published;
- estimate the time it would take to produce the information, and the cost of so doing;
- give views on whether the proposed threshold of 250 employees is appropriate for private and voluntary sector employers; and
- suggest alternative ways of increasing transparency on gender pay that would limit the cost for employers, for example reporting to the Government via the existing PAYE system.
The consultation document can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/444716/Gender_Pay_Gap_Consultation.pdf.
The online consultation questionnaire for responses can be found at https://jfe.qualtrics.com/form/SV_0ppaSxAXdKa6UJv. The closing date is 6 September 2015.