The Government Equality Office has confirmed that the final gender pay reporting regulations (discussed here) are unlikely to be brought into force in October this year as originally planned. The hope is that the regulations will be approved this autumn and commenced in April 2017. The relevant provision of the Equality Act allowing the regulations to be made was commenced on 22 August.

The government has also published a consultation paper setting out plans to introduce similar reporting obligations in the public sector as are planned for the private and voluntary sectors, within the same time-frame. The consultation runs until 30 September 2016.

Given the intention for both sets of regulations to be broadly similar, the consultation suggests that the final private sector regulations will differ from the original draft in the following ways:

  • employers will be required to report the median gender bonus pay gap (as well as the mean)
  • the first data snapshot will be on 5 April 2017 (rather than 30 April 2017) and the date by which the required information must first be published will be 4 April 2018 (rather than 29 April 2018)
  • the drafting will clarify that pay quartiles are to be calculated by dividing the workforce into four equal sized groups, and not dividing the overall pay distribution into four equal proportions
  • the regulations will cover 'employees' within the wider definition of employment at s83 of the Equality Act 2010 (and therefore likely to include LLP members and self-employed contractors who have a contract personally to do work) and include overseas employees with a strong connection with Great Britain.

Although the final detail is not yet available, employers within scope (with at least 250 relevant employees) should start to prepare, identifying a process and team to capture the data and prepare the report, with senior level involvement (as the report must be signed off by a director or equivalent). It may also be useful to anticipate which areas are likely to be problematic for the particular business, whether in complying with the obligation (eg, in identifying employees in scope, collecting the data for casual workers, etc) or in managing the communication of any pay disparity.