Luke Menzies: Tougher-than-expected Gender Pay Gap enforcement

In all the commentary written on the Gender Pay Gap reporting (GPGR – not to be confused with GDPR) legislation, very little has touched on the consequences of an employer failing to comply with its duty to report and publish.  Very unusually for employment law, the duty to report may be a legal duty but comes with no specific fine or other legal penalty for failing to comply.  That’s led to quite a few people asking me “why should we even bother to report?”

To date, all we’ve known from the Government Equalities Office is that the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) might investigate an employer who doesn’t comply.  It wasn’t clear how much of a risk this might actually be, particularly given that the EHRC has limited staff and resources.

Unexpectedly strong response

However, with a sense of resolve which I must admit I was not expecting, the ECHR has just announced its plans to take a robust approach.  Its consultation paper announces that it plans to monitor all GPGR submissions to the Government’s website and, checking these against its list of those employers who must comply, te EHRC will then chase up every non-reporting employer.

They also intend to check the Gender Pay Gap figures submitted by each employer and take action against those whose data appears unlikely to be true or accurate.  (You may recall that in my last blog I mentioned that the Financial Times was investigating certain employers whose claims to have a zero percent Gender Pay Gap seemed too unlikely to be true.  I will come back to this in future blogs.)

The EHRC can then apply its wide and strong powers to force compliance on employers and ask the courts to issue significant fines.

Accuracy of Gender Pay Gap figures

One aspect to highlight for all GPGR employers, therefore, is the need to ensure that your GPG figures are accurate.  There are a number of ways in which falsified figures can look suspicious, and the reputational harm arising from both being found to have been misleading and being investigated by the EHRC at the same time would be significant.

It also highlights the need to ensure that your Gender Pay Gap figures are professionally calculated in accordance with both the GPGR legislation and established statistical approaches.  Being found to have messed up your Gender Pay Gap figures and suffering an EHRC investigation would be highly embarrassing.

So ensure you report on time and ensure your figures are accurate.  If you are in any doubt, I and my expert GPG team will be delighted to help you, whether for just a quick look over your figures or to do the full calculation so that you can be getting on with your day jobs.

About Luke Menzies

Luke Menzies, a dual-qualified Barrister and Solicitor and a leading employment lawyer in the South West. Founder and Managing Partner of the award-winning Menzies Law LLP, Luke has an enormous amount of experience and expertise in working with CEOs, HR Directors, Finance Directors and their colleagues to deliver pragmatic, commercial solutions to their employment law and people-related challenges. His extensive experience as a Barrister handling Employment Tribunal and court claims allows him to offer bold and creative advice with a high degree of authority and confidence. He spends much of his time with clients handling the exits of senior executives and high-level strategic issues such as restructuring, pay & reward, trade unions and industrial action.

Luke has appeared as a studio guest on BBC News as an employment law expert and is regularly invited to speak at national and regional conferences such as the CIPD, Association of Colleges, the E-Rewards Annual Conference and the Sheet Plant Association. He also writes articles for leading HR publications and is regularly asked for comments and quotes as a gender pay gap/equal pay expert by publications, which have included national newspapers, such as The Telegraph, The Sun and the Evening Standard.

In 2017 Luke was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) for his work in promoting gender equality both within Menzies Law and with clients.

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