Gender pay gap reporting, Government response on sexual harassment and executive pay: new transparency measuresare are all covered in this month's Quick fire.

Gender pay gap reporting

This year’s deadline for employers of 250 or more employees to report their gender pay gap data is fast approaching: 4 April 2019 (or 31 March 2019 for public sector employers).

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has recently published a new report, Closing the gender pay gap, based on research analysing 440 gender pay gap reports across various sectors. Only half of the employers in the sample group had provided a narrative alongside the data they are required to publish, and only 20% provided an action plan for taking steps to eliminate the gender pay gap.

The EHRC urges employers to provide narrative reports alongside the pay gap figures, which would provide them with the opportunity to publicly set out the reasons for the gap and state what measures they are taking to address it. The report includes examples of positive and concrete commitments made by employers to bring about change. It suggests that employers should refer to the GEO guide on practical steps for closing the gender pay gap.

Government response on sexual harassment

The Government has published its response to the Women and Equalities Select Committee report on sexual harassment in the workplace (see our previous Quick fire, August 2018). The 12 action points in the response include recommendations, proposals for consultation and various other commitments.

A new statutory code of practice on sexual harassment will be developed by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which is intended to assist employers in understanding and demonstrating compliance with the statutory defence that they have taken reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring. The Government is also raising the maximum limit of the penalty that may be awarded by a tribunal for an aggravated breach of employment rights from £5,000 to £20,000. This will come into force on 6 April 2019.

The Government also plans to consult on proposals to introduce a mandatory duty to protect workers from sexual harassment, how to strengthen and clarify laws relating to third party harassment, whether new protections are necessary to protect interns and volunteers, and whether to extend tribunal time limits from three to six months for claims under the Equality Act 2010. It will also consider how best to regulate the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs).

In addition, the Government has committed to working with Acas, the EHRC and employers to raise awareness of appropriate workplace behaviours and individual rights, and will commission a survey that gathers data on the prevalence and nature of workplace sexual harassment.

Executive pay: new transparency measures

New regulations came into force on 1 January 2019, requiring UK listed companies with over 250 employees to annually disclose the ratio of their CEO’s pay to the median, lower quartile and upper quartile pay of their UK employees. The first such reports must be published in 2020, covering pay awarded in 2019.

All large companies will also be required to report on how their directors take employee and other stakeholder interests into account and to report on their corporate governance arrangements. These reforms form part of the Government’s industrial strategy and are designed to address public concerns over the level of CEO salaries and also to give employees a greater influence over boardroom decisions.

The Government has published a set of FAQs on the new reporting requirements.