The first week of April is significant for employers for two reasons:
On 6 April 2017 the new gender pay gap reporting regime comes into force. It will apply to private sector employers with 250 or more employees.
5 April 2017 is the date when employers will take a snapshot of their pay data – by 4 April 2018 they will have to publish a report showing to what extent that data demonstrates a gender pay gap within their organisation.
Some employers have embraced the new regime early – either by running test calculations based on earlier snapshot dates, or by leading from the front and publishing their data early. Virgin Money included its gender pay gap figures in its 2016 annual report, published at the beginning of March, with Schroders following swiftly afterwards.
The aim of the new regime is to highlight the difference in pay between the sexes and to encourage employers to take steps to reduce it. The hope is that employers will look at their gender pay gap figures and think critically about how they can improve their culture, working practices and succession planning so that they can close their gender pay gap over time.
There is a risk though that greater pay transparency in the private sector may result in an increase in equal pay claims within that sector. Whilst equal pay and the gender pay gap are two different things – although they both deal with the disparity of pay between the sexes – gender pay gap reporting may potentially flush out equal pay issues of which employees were unaware.