On 18 August the government published a consultation paper on a new mandatory gender pay reporting regime for large employers in the English public sector.

Background

In February this year the government consulted on draft regulations introducing mandatory gender pay reporting obligations for employers in the private and voluntary sectors with 250 or more employees (the draft regulations). See our previous article. It was expected that the final regulations would be laid before Parliament in the summer and come into force in October 2016. However, given the events of this year, the timetable slipped.

The consultation paper which has now been issued in respect of reporting by employers with 250 or more employees in the public sector in England also confirms some of the changes we can expect to see to the draft regulations when these are finally laid before parliament.

In the forward to the latest consultation paper, the Minister for Women and Equalities confirmed that the government will be seeking parliamentary approval for the draft regulations 'later this year'.

Public sector employers

The government wants to introduce the same reporting regime for a range of public sector employers during '2016-17'. This regime will follow the already developed model for the private and voluntary sectors as closely as possible.

The latest consultation paper is not consulting on each individual measure again but, simply seeking views on whether there are any particular issues for public bodies which need to be taken into account.

The government will introduce mandatory gender pay reporting in the public sector by amending existing legislation which already applies in the public sector, the Specific Duties Regulations (the 'SPD Regulations').

All public sector organisations currently listed in the SPD regulations will be required to report their gender pay gap information. This covers a wide range of bodies including, local and central government, educational establishments, the NHS, the police, the Armed Forces, parts of the BBC and Channel 4, ACAS, Transport for London, a range of regulators and various other bodies performing public functions.

What does the latest consultation paper tell us?

The latest consultation paper sheds light on some changes that we can expect to see to the draft regulations for the private sector issued in February, including:

  • The consultation confirms that the broader definition of 'employee', as set out in section 83 of the Equality Act 2010, will apply to the regulations. This includes anyone employed under a contract to do work personally which would catch workers and salaried partners.
  • It appears that the data snapshot date (the date on which all employers will be required to assess the pay of their workforce) will be the 5 April, not the 30 April as was previously provided in the draft regulations.
  • Consequently, the final date for publication of an organisation's first gender pay report will be 4 April 2018. The consultation paper confirms that employers will be able to choose the date on which they publish their report.
  • Publication of both the difference in mean and median bonus payments to men and women will be required. In the draft regulations only the mean figure was required.
  • The consultation paper confirms the government's view on the correct way to collate salary quartile information which had been unclear in the draft regulations. It says employers will need to divide their workforce into four equal sized groups, separated according to hourly pay from lowest to highest. This approach has been adopted in preference to dividing the overall pay ranges into four equal distributions.

Unlike in the private and voluntary sectors where there is no enforcement regime other than reputational risk, the Equality and Human Rights Commission will be able to take enforcement action against public bodies which fail to comply with their obligations.

The consultation closes on 30 September 2016.