With less than a third of companies with over 250 employees having published their gender pay audits and around 30% not even having registered and the deadline of 4th April fast approaching, Suzanne Tanser from HR consultancy Croner looks at what comes next.
As the gender pay gap deadline nears, large employers are likely to be gearing up to publish their report. Once published, employers need to be ensure they aren’t putting the issue of gender pay gaps to one side.
An important date for employers to be aware of is the next ‘snapshot date’ on 5th April 2018 for private companies, or the 31st March for public sector organisations. Employers who still have 250 employees at this date, taking into account the wider definition of ‘employee’, need to pull the pay data of their staff. This is the data which will be used to carry out the calculations for the gender pay gap report due on 4th April 2019, or 30th March for public sector.
Where the 2018 report has identified a gender pay gap, those companies who did not carry out an equal pay review as part of the process may now choose to do so. This review, or an equal pay audit, will assess whether any discrimination is taking place in relation to the pay practices of the company. Where male and female staff are paid differently for carrying out the same role, the employer will need to identify if any objective factors are present which explains the pay disparity. If no objective factors are present, the employer will need to take steps to equalise pay.
Employers who made commitments to take steps to reduce the pay gap in their 2018 report will need to be aware that employees, and the general public, will be able to track whether employers are putting these into practice. Gender pay gap reports have to be maintained on the company’s website for a period of three years so can be used to monitor the reduction or closure of the original gap identified. Employees may also start asking questions about the steps the company is taking; it will be good practice to respond to these questions to avoid alienating the employee.
Adopting the measures outlined in the voluntary narrative to address the pay gap will highlight the company’s commitment towards equality and ensuring fairness in pay. There are key areas employers can look at to help address the pay gap, including recruitment, promotion and training opportunities. When recruiting employees, it is recommended that recruiters avoid asking for previous salaries to ensure pay rates can be set at a level which recognises the objective factors of the role, such as experience and qualifications, rather than being set according to previous lower salaries. Advertising roles as flexible, and having a positive attitude towards embracing flexible workers, also supports the recruitment of those with childcare responsibilities.
Employers are also being encouraged to provide greater support for females moving to or currently in senior positions within the company. Large companies can consider using their apprenticeship levy payments to help upskill current female employees with the management skills that are necessary to gain promotion or leadership roles. Introducing programmes that look at providing training or support for those who have been out of work due to caring responsibilities will also help reduce the gender pay gap.
Setting up an internal group to help review and advise on future steps will also aid employers as they can gain feedback from those within the business. A working group or internal committee can help inform future decisions, communicate steps to be taken to colleagues and report on the impact on the workforce.
*Suzanne Tanser is Reward Manager at HR, Health & Safety and Reward consultancy Croner.