As International Women’s Day was yesterday, this e-bulletin focuses on forthcoming changes aimed at addressing gender inequality in the workplace.
As most employers will know, the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 come into force next month on 5 April 2017. The key obligations include a requirement to publish the mean and median hourly pay gap between men and women; to report the annual bonus gap between men and women and to publish the number of men and women in each quartile pay band. The data must be published on the employer’s website by April 2018, and stay there for three years.
The most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that the gender pay gap in the UK economy as a whole is currently 18.1 %. This fact was picked up by a feminist society at the University of Essex which held a cake sale to highlight gender inequality and charged men £1 and women 82p for cakes.
Separately, the Government has recently responded to a report by the Women and Equalities Committee on pregnancy and maternity discrimination which showed that the number of expectant and new mothers who felt forced to leave their jobs has almost doubled since an equivalent survey in 2005. Although several recommendations were not accepted by the Government, it has committed to look at ways to strengthen protection for women who are pregnant or who have recently returned from maternity leave in light of some startling statistics around the number of women who feel forced to leave their employment (including by reason of redundancy) and who reported harassment or negative comments linked to their pregnancy (11% and 20% respectively).
There is clearly still some way to go before we achieve gender equality in employment but the changes above, coupled with other family-friendly legislation over the past few years (the introduction of shared parental leave and broader flexible working rights), are a big step in the right direction.