This comes after previous reporting was suspended in March 2020 due to the strain of COVID-19 on businesses.
It has been announced that enforcement of gender pay gap reporting is to be delayed by a further six months, meaning that businesses now have more time to pass this data along to authorities before action is taken against them.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) stated that companies should still attempt to meet the deadline on the 4th April but can ultimately submit this data before the 4th October 2021 without repercussions.
This move was dubbed as one which strikes “the right balance between supporting businesses still impacted by the pandemic and making sure employers comply with the law” by the EHRC.
The policy of mandatory gender pay gap reporting for businesses with over 250 employees was first introduced in 2017, reflecting on figures that document the average earnings of men and women across a workforce.
The most recent statistics on record show that, in March 2020, the median gender pay gap for employees was 15.3 per cent, down from a median figure of 15.5 per cent a year earlier.
Similarly, the mean gender pay gap also saw a decrease over this time, reaching 18.0 per cent in 2019 and falling to 16.9 per cent in 2020.
Other data showed that more women received bonuses than men in 2020 with 68.1 per cent of women receiving this type of reward whilst only 67.9 per cent of men received the same. Despite this, men had a higher mean bonus amount over the year – £326.50 compared to women who had an average mean bonus amount of £290.30.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the EHRC, said:
We know businesses are still facing challenging times.
Starting our legal process in October strikes the right balance between supporting businesses and enforcing these important regulations.
Taking action to reduce the gender pay gap must continue. Reporting provides an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality, which will be more important than ever as the effects of the pandemic continue.
However, Frances O’Grady, General Secretary of the TUC, raised concerns about this delay to the reporting. Ms. O’Grady stated this sent a “worrying message about the importance given to gender equality”. She further added that gender pay gap reporting “must not be seen as a nice addition when times are good that can be shelved when the going gets tough”.
Sheila Flavell, Chief Operating Officer of the FDM Group, echoed this sentiment and felt that businesses should be reporting in March in order to avoid regressing on previous strides made towards gender equality before the pandemic:
Prior to the pandemic, U.K. business was making good progress with its social and gender equality initiatives, but unfortunately Covid-19 has been a fork in the road, derailing many of said initiatives and removing the government enforced gender pay reporting mandate.
Despite the extension to this gender reporting break, there is nothing stopping business leaders reporting as usual in March, and employers who champion social change should still be encouraged to do so, even if their own gender reporting figures are by no means spotless.
After a tough year, now is not the time to turn our backs on equality. The pressures of unpaid care and home schooling has affected women over the past 12 months which has forced many to cut their hours or quit their jobs in the pandemic, therefore it’s vital that all employers analyse their pay gaps and take the necessary action, without delay.