The final regulations for mandatory gender pay gap reporting in the public sector have now been published. We consider how these align with the private sector requirements and highlight the key differences for public authorities.
The requirement to report on gender pay within the public sector arises out of the existing stringent public sector equality duties. The final form regulations are therefore included as schedule 1 to The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 rather than being a stand-alone set of regulations as is the case within the private sector.
The requirements will apply to a relevant public authority in England (as well as specified cross border Welsh authorities and public authorities operating across Great Britain in relation to non-devolved functions), listed in schedule 2 of the regulations, which also have 250 or more employees on the snapshot date.
The government previously indicated its intention that the gender pay gap reporting regimes within both the private and public sector should be aligned. This is, in the main, reflected in the final form regulations.
For example, both regimes:
- require the same sets of information to be published
- provide for the same method of calculating the hourly rate of pay and weekly working hours
- include the same definitions for pay, pay period and bonus pay
- require the same approach to representing the pay quartile information
- do not require any accompanying narrative to be provided (although this is recommended)
- specify that the report is published annually
For more information on each of these areas please see our previous articles on the private sector requirements.
There are, however, three important differences between the two regimes which public authorities need to take into account.
(1) The public sector regulations come into force on 31 March 2017 unlike the private sector regulations which come into force on 6 April 2017. The earlier date for public authorities is thought to better align with existing reporting obligations and practices.
(2) As a result of the different implementation date, the snapshot date for the public sector duty is 31 March each year and not 5 April as applies within the private sector. This means the public authorities will be required to publish their first gender pay gap reports by 30 March 2018 (before private employers who have until 4 April 2018 to publish their first reports).
(3) Although public authorities have the same requirement to publish the report on their website and on a government website, there is no requirement for the report to be accompanied by a signed statement from a senior individual within the organisation, as applies within the private sector requirements.
As with private employers, now is the time for public authorities to start preparing for these new obligations. Our checklist of steps will apply equally to both sectors and is a good starting point for all employers.