From gender pay to parental pay

The gender pay audits have encouraged moves towards greater transparency, particularly around parental leave and pay policies.

man and woman's feet standing next to empty baby shoes


Yesterday night was the deadline for private sector employer with over 250 employees to publish their gender pay audits. It seems a lot of employers left things until the last minute, risking fines. In the next days there will be a lot of articles analysing those figures.

Public sector organisations had a slightly earlier deadline and overall the figures show a slight increase in the pay gap.

Figures in by yesterday evening suggest there was a slight decrease in the gap in the private sector,  but that nearly half of companies [45%] reported a rise in their pay differential in favour of men and 7% reporting no change.

Among those reporting a large pay gap are Easyjet and Barclays Investment Bank. Those sectors with the largest pay gap are construction, financial services and mining. The gap measures the difference between what the average pay is for men and women in an organisation.

Much has been written about the gender pay gap since the legislation came into effect and it has certainly given some of the issues that contribute to it higher prominence.

The hope is that that spurs employers to analyse the reasons for their gap and take action, although there is no mandatory requirement or enforcement mechanism for getting them to do so.

The publicity around the pay gap has additionally led to discussions about how the audit model can be used to tackle transparency around other equality issues. It has also been the basis for a campaign for employers to publish their parental leave and pay policies.

Surprisingly, not many do – even those employers who have good policies. I’ve spent many an hour trying to track down the policies, particularly on pay, of employers I know have good policies and they are often very well hidden if public at all.

A recent report from the Executive Coaching Company backs this up. It found that less than 20 per cent of employers in the Times Top 100 Graduate Employers list publish details of their parental leave policies.

The report measured several different types of support for parents, including flexible working and monitoring of it. Just four firms were in the top category as beacon employers with regard to family friendly working – Accenture, EY, PwC and the Civil Service.

There have been attempts to benchmark parental leave policies over the years, but there have been some big changes from some employers in recent years, in the wake of Shared Parental Leave, so it is difficult to keep up to date. Just this week Diageo announced that it was introduced an equal parental leave policy, granting 26 weeks of paid leave to new parents and O2

Yet this is increasingly the kind of information potential candidates are looking for. Many HRs talk about how they are getting more and more questions about things like flexible working at interview.

Family friendly working is moving higher and higher up the agenda of jobseekers so it makes little sense, if you have a good policy, to hide it under a bushel. With regard to parental pay and leave larger employers may soon have to make their policies public. Jo Swinson from the Lib Dems has drawn up proposals for legislation and the government has agreed to consult on them. Swinson, who is also pushing for legislation to extend Shared Parental Leave to the self employed and dads with less than six months in a job, hopes that this will lead more employers to up their offering, and perhaps not just on parental leave policies.

Dave Dunbar, one of our Top Employer Award judges, recently wrote on about the need for good employers to shout more about what they are doing with regard to flexible working. The same goes for other aspects of family friendly working. That begins with making it easier for people to find out all the great benefits an employer might have to offer and, by doing so, encouraging others to adopt similar practices.

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