Fears mount over gender pay audit suspension

Fears are mounting that the Government may suspend gender pay gap reporting again at a time when there are concerns about the impact of Covid on women’s jobs.

Demonstrating the gender pay gap with men on the higher ledge than women


The government appears to be considering suspending enforcement of gender pay gap reporting again this year.

Enforcement of gender pay gap reporting was suspended last year due to Covid and the Government had announced rules on submissions this year. Concerns had been expressed as the Government suggested only those receiving their full pay in April would be included, ie not furloughed workers.

Gillian Keegan MP, minister for Apprenticeships and Skills and former co-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women and Work, told the BBC yesterday that the Government is “encouraging” employers to continue filing their gender pay gap reports, but that enforcement may again be suspended. Figures show only half the number of submissions had been received in recent weeks as at the same time last year.

Keegan said: “Enforcing [the reporting] at this time is something that doesn’t seem right. If we need to suspend enforcement of it we will probably do so.”

Under gender pay audit rules, all public sector organisation and private firms with more than 250 staff hay to publish their pay data with a gender breakdown. The rules were launched in 2017, but campaigners say they are already having an impact by putting more onus on employers to do something about women’s career progression. They also state that suspension at a time when there are fears that women’s progression at work are going backwards as a result of childcare issues during Covid as well as various other factors gives the wrong message on gender equality in the workplace.

Sending the wrong message

Sian Elliott, women’s equality lead at the Trades Union Congress (TUC), said suspending gender pay gap reporting sends a message to employers that pay equality is “a nice to have but not essential”.

She stated: “If government allows employers off the hook again, it is yet more evidence that they are prepared to let women pay the price for this crisis.”

A Women and Equalities Committee report this week called for the reinstatement of gender pay gap reporting [including for 2019 and 2020] and for reporting to include ethnicity and disability, something it wants the Government to consider within the next six months.

workingmums.co.uk work with employers shows how vital data is for promoting action on gender equality in the workplace. At a recent roundtable on women and work employers agreed that gender pay audits focused the mind and forced senior leaders to look at what action could be taken.

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