Gender pay gap round-up and how employers can make progress

More than 1,000 employers reported their figures in the 24 hours before yesterday’s midnight deadline for companies with over 250 employees to file their gender pay audits.

Some 10,046 employers in the private and public sector have now reported their data with 1,557 failing to file their data on time. They will now be contacted by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission and could face fines. The figures show that around eight in 10 [78%] of the companies and public sector bodies in the UK pay men more than women.

Only 14% of employers reported paying women more than men and 8% reported no pay gap between men and women. The data shows the national median pay gap for all workers was 18.4%, with the public sector reporting an overall pay gap of 14% and the figure for full-time workers only being 9.1%.

Analysis by the Guardian suggests the construction industry has the biggest sector-wide gap, with an average median pay differential of 25%; and accommodation and food services has the smallest gap, at 1%. The largest pay gap was 85.2%, reported by NWN Media, a regional news business owned by Newsquest.

The median hourly rate is calculated by ranking all employees from the highest paid to the lowest paid, and taking the hourly wage of the person in the middle. That means the median gender pay gap is the difference between women’s median hourly wage (the middle paid woman) and men’s median hourly wage (the middle paid man).

Mark Crail, XpertHR Content Director, says he believes reporting has been “a great success – so far” and shows boards are beginning to take the issue seriously. He states: “To the surprise of many, including me, almost every employer covered by Regulations has reported by the deadline, even though there was no clear indication up until a week ago what penalties if any there would be for failing to comply.”


The Equalities and Human Rights Commission has been speaking recently about how it intends to enforce the Regulations. They have said that their first priority will be to talk to organisations that have failed to report at all. Crail says that, with regard to talking to organisations that have published their data and may have made errors, he hopes the EHRC will do so “with some understanding of the difficulties many employers have encountered in compiling the data and interpreting the Regulations to fit their circumstances”. While there is no excuse for deliberately publishing wrong data, he says, it should be borne in mind that the first year of reporting “has been a learning experience for many and some will have made genuine mistakes”.

He adds: “Many organisations have struggled to get their data right this year as the Regulations are quite patchy – providing very precise instructions in some areas while leaving a great deal unsaid in others. It is, for example, not easy even to get a definition of “employee” for the purposes of the Regulations. Hopefully, that will prove easier next year with the advantage of the first year to go on.

“But there remains a lot to do in terms of reporting. Some organisations have opted to say the absolute minimum required of them, while others have seized the opportunity to supplement the basic statistics with additional data that sheds light on the pay gap. The standard of commentary has been variable, too. Some organisations have used their reports as a way of engaging with their employees, while others have given the appearance of trying to play down or dismiss the pay gap.”

He advised employers to review their processes, look out for examples of best practice and focus on action plans for making progress as a priority “not just for HR but for the board”.

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