Employers accused of wasting time over tackling gender pay gap

Analysis of the gender pay gap figures shows little change since last year.

Gender Pay Gap


Britain’s gender pay gap has remained almost unchanged since last year and many employers have ‘wasted’ the opportunity to tackle the problem by leaving reporting till the last minute, according to expert analysis.

XpertHR’s analysis of data from the 10,444 employers with over 250 employees who published their gender pay gap data by the final deadline of midnight on Thursday 4 April found that while the mean or average pay gap fell from 13.3% last year to 13.1%, the median – the difference between the middle paid woman and the middle paid man in an organisation – rose from 9.2% to 9.6%.

This is the second year that organisations with 250 or more employees have been legally required to publish gender pay gap data. The data relates to a snapshot of statistics taken in April 2018. Employers have a year from that date to file their results and any analysis.

XpertHR says that because many employers left their calculations and reporting until the very last minute in 2018,  by the time they were aware of their pay gap, the snapshot date for this year’s reports had already arrived. “This means that the impact of any changes put in place over the past 12 months will not take effect until employers publish their next reports in 2020,” it says.

XpertHR content director Mark Crail said: “This is the second year that employers have had a legal duty to reveal their gender pay gaps and many people will be disappointed to see that there has been virtually no change over the past 12 months.

“In part this is because there is an underlying structural problem about the number of men and women in different occupational silos and their relative experience and seniority; it is not just a matter of men and women being rewarded differently for doing the same jobs.

“But more could have been done by now. Too many employers took advantage of the fact that they had a full year to publish their first report in 2018, and were surprised by the scale of the problem that this revealed.

Many were genuinely shocked to discover they had a gender pay gap at all. As a result, the ‘snapshot date’ of 5 April 2018 for this year’s reports was already upon them by the time they started to think about what to do.

“Employers will hope to get through this round of reports by explaining that 12 months is too short of time to sort out such a deep-rooted problem. There will be less sympathy for that excuse if there is still no progress to show this time next year.”

Xpert HR’s analysis of the 10,444 reports published by the 4 April deadline

  • The mean gender pay gap was 13.1% (13.3% last year)
  • The median gender pay gap was 9.6% (9.2%)
  • Bonus payments were made to 19.3% of men and 17.3% of women
  • The mean gender bonus gap was 35.4% (35.8% last year)
  • The median gender bonus bap was 19.6% (19.5% last year)

The figure also show that 62% of male employees were in the top pay band, compared to just 38% of women. Fifty three per cent of the second band was made up of men; in the third band 48% were men; and in the lowest paid band women dominated by 55.4%.

A more detailed analysis by XpertHR shows that the lack of progress in tackling the gender pay gap is repeated across every industry and sector. It says finances and construction remain the worst offenders and it highlights a worsening pay gap across many parts of the public sector.

For most the change in mean pay since last year is very small either way – usually under 1%. The biggest changes were in the paper and printing sector where the gap rose by 2% and in chemicals, pharmaceutical and oil where it fell by 1.4%.

The biggest changes in median gender pay gaps were in agriculture and forestry [up 1.8%], chemicals, pharmaceuticals and oil [down 1.8%] and public education [up 1.2%]. There was more of a change in gender bonus gaps, for instance, with the mean bonus pay gap in non-profits down 5.6%. The median bonus pay gap fell 8.6% in agriculture and forestry, but it rose by 8.8% in paper and printing.

Meanwhile, HMRC figures show that five times as many men as women earn more than £150,000, with analysis by the Sunday Times also revealing that 10 times as many men earn more than £1m. The data show that around 295,000 men earn more than £150,000 a year, while only about 61,000 women do – although figures from 2012-2017 do show that the number of female workers earning more than £100,000 is increasing at about double the rate of men.

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