An increasing number of clients have been going through the process of registering their Gender Pay Gap figures and as a result (and publishing our own report) we have put together a few helpful tips in dealing with the process.
Using the government portal
- The key learnings from using the government portal are as follows:
- The system will automatically round up to one decimal place. This may seem like a minor thing, but to use our own example, we had a gap of 12.98%. However, when entered onto the government site, this was automatically changed to 13%. If developing material for internal or external communication it is important that the figures are correct.
- Registering on the system is a two-step approach. While it is a relatively simple process, it is important that those planning on publishing at the last minute ensure they have registered in advance. The initial online registration is followed by a verification process for which you need to wait for something to be sent in the post. To use Shoosmiths as an example again - our offices are registered in Milton Keynes but our diversity, inclusion and wellbeing manager, is not. This meant not only waiting for something to be posted to Milton Keynes but then for it to make its way through the internal post to Birmingham (and then for the right person to be in Birmingham to open it and complete registration). You can see that this, in itself, may take a couple of weeks.
- The person registering on the portal does not need to be the person who ultimately signs off. While our CEO is listed against the Shoosmiths' data, our diversity, inclusion and wellbeing manager published the information.
- If organisations want to include any narrative around their pay gap, this can only be done by providing a link to their own website. You should make sure this is available and live before submitting your data. It can be added later, but it is possible, as we found, that people are watching the data. Shoosmiths was immediately contacted by a number of people asking for information about the figures, so it is much better to have all relevant information ready. This is particularly the case given the recently published reports that some information being downloaded may not be wholly accurate.
Other top tips
Don't look at the data in isolation - make sure you understand it in the broader context of staff demographics, looking at the whole employment lifecycle.
Don't be alarmed it you receive letters from the Government Equalities Office to your subsidiary companies asking for information. A number of companies with less than 250 employees have received communications asking for details. The more complex your company structure, the more likely that mistakes may be made. Be prepared to reply with the correct details if a mistake on employee numbers has been made.
Look at data in advance of deadline - we had recommended to clients that they tried a dummy run on data. Some did this last year. At Shoosmiths, we conducted this dry run in February and March so we knew what sort of figures we were looking at. One of the more surprising insights was how people joining/leaving can have an impact on the final figure. Contrasting any earlier figures with those published by April 2018 will help organisations think about where improvements can be seen and what might have caused these. If you did not have the opportunity to do this before the 2017 trigger date, then you can always do the comparison with the next set of figures.
A robust communication plan is needed for both internal and external communications. It is important that, internally, everyone understands what the figures mean, in case questions result from the publication.
Some areas cause particular difficulties, for example contractors who invoice irregularly. It can be nearly impossible to assess whether a payment falls within a relevant period around the key trigger date. However, if the method of invoicing does cause difficulties, steps should be taken to try and deal with this for the next reporting period. You may have to speak to contractors to request more clarity in their invoicing processes.
It is very easy to get caught in the fine detail of the data, but don't let this delay publications. As time goes on, then more detail will become clear and relevance of information should be easier to assess.
The business cannot change overnight, so be prepared to make changes over time, with the end goal of dealing with any pay anomalies and identifying, if there is a gap, how and why this has occurred and if it can be addressed.