The UK deadline for company reporting on the gender pay gap passed on 4 April with much media attention and scrutiny. It is reported that over 10,000 companies reported before the deadline. However, the UK Equality and Human Rights Commission has reported that 1,557 companies missed the deadline.
Amongst those companies who reported, the median pay gap is 9.7%. However, according to the UK Office of National Statistics, the gap is much higher at 18.4%. The UK media has criticised this apparent difference and the methods used by some companies to report.
The UK introduced gender pay gap reporting under the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017. This legislation requires organisations with 250 employees or more to publish data on the pay of their male and female employees in respect of differences in mean and median hourly pay, bonuses and the proportion of men and women in each pay quartile. This data must be published once annually by all private companies meeting the threshold.
As we have commented on previously (in December 2017 and March 2018), Ireland is set to introduce gender pay gap reporting under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission (Gender Pay Gap Information) Bill.
It was reported last week that this legislation may be enacted before the summer recess with some amendments to the current Bill with a view to gender pay gap reporting being in force in Ireland by the end of 2018.
The experience of the UK gender pay gap reporting will give the Irish legislature food for thought with regards to enforceability, meeting deadlines and encouraging accurate gender pay gap reporting in Ireland by deadline day.
The UK experience will also give Irish companies much to consider in preparation for gender pay gap reporting. It is very clear that the figures will be closely scrutinised, possibly resulting in negative media attention for companies and with the knock-on effect of negative morale amongst employees. Gender discrimination is often a basis for claims in the Workplace Relations Commission, and with the heightened awareness this year of potential gender disparities in the workplace, more claims are likely over the next few years.
Irish companies can take the lessons learned from their UK counterparts and begin to assess the gender pay gap in their own companies now well in advance of legislation being enacted allowing them the opportunity to mitigate risks.