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Employers look likely to leave publication of their gender pay gap reports until the very last minute rather than stand out by publishing data ahead of their competitors, according to new XpertHR research.
Organisations with 250 or more employees have to publish their gender pay and bonus gaps by April 2018 in order to comply with regulations that came into effect this year. However, with less than six months to go, only 6% of the estimated 4,000 employers covered by the new law have complied, says XpertHR.
Anecdotally, the organisation has heard that some are waiting to see what other companies in their sector do before publishing – or that they want there to be a large number of reports in the public domain before they release their own figures.
A survey published today by XpertHR of 128 companies in the private sector reveals that despite the low reporting rate to date, more than one in four (26.5%) mid-sized companies (those with 250-999 employees) and more than half (51.5% ) of larger companies (with 1,000+ employees) have already calculated their pay gaps but without yet making them public.
The survey found that 28.1% of mid-sized companies and 20.6% of larger companies had not yet carried out any calculations. Just 3.1% and 1.5% respectively have already reported. Almost all the rest had calculated their pay gaps either informally or formally but had not yet reported.
Among those that had carried out the calculations, the results rarely came as a surprise, says XpertHR. Nearly seven out of 10 (69.8%) said their pay gap was in line with expectations, with most saying that they had calculated the figures before.
Employers reported a similar lack of surprise at the extent of their gender bonus gaps – which are typically far wider than pay gaps.
Asked what they would do as a result of calculating and reporting their gender pay gaps, organisations were most likely to:
Just one in six (16.7%) said that having calculated and reported their gender pay gap, they were likely to take no further action.
XpertHR content director Mark Crail said: “Six months in, not only have tiny numbers of employers reported their gender pay gaps so far, but those that have done so have had pay gaps that were narrower than the national average. It now appears that many organisations, especially those with substantial pay gaps, are holding back from publishing their reports rather than wanting to draw attention to themselves by going early.
“Having looked at the reports that have been published so far, it is obvious that some, despite the best efforts of those concerned, do not entirely comply with the legislation. Rather than leaving it until the last minute, employers should now be ensuring that their data is accurate, the calculations are in line with the legislation and that all the reporting requirements can be met.
“Our data suggests that there will be a late surge of published data towards next April as the deadline approaches. HR departments should use the next few months wisely to really understand their own organisation’s gender pay gap and to develop a clear message to employees and the outside world about why it exists and what they are going to do about it.”
Meanwhile, this week has seen a few companies publishing their pay gap. Easyjet is reporting a 45.5% median pay gap between its male and female staff. It says the gap is heavily influenced by the salaries and gender make-up of its pilots. The Co-operative Bank has revealed that its median gender pay gap is 22.6%, while Shell said on average its female staff earn 23.4% less than their male colleagues. Both firms pointed to the number of men in senior roles compared to the number of women as a reason for the disparity. Another report this week on women in sport shows that the combined pay of those playing in the top seven women’s football leagues equals that of a single male footballer, the Brazilian forward Neymar, despite some small movement towards equality, such as Lewes’ football club’s decision to pay its women’s team the same as its men’s team.
And Office for National Statistics figures show the gap between part-time women’s hourly pay and men’s has fallen 6.1% to 22.3% over the last 20 years, while full-time workers women still earn 13.1% less per hour than men, a small improvement from 13.5% in 1997. The figures also show that London has the biggest gender pay gap in the UK, with the average woman working full time earning 14.6% less per hour than the average full time man. The capital had the smallest gender pay gap in the UK 20 years ago.