Provide narrative to explain gender pay gap figures, says report

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) published a review on 14 December 2018 of the impact of gender pay gap reporting.

The EHRC found that only half the employers in the sample group had published narrative reports alongside their pay reporting. Although not legally required to do so, the EHRC recommends that employers do so in order to publicly set out the reasons for gaps and to explain what they plan to do to eliminate the disparity in a time-bound and target-driven way.

One in five employers sampled had produced an action plan to close the gender pay gap, and larger employers were more likely than small ones to set themselves targets to measure progress of their plans.

The report notes that it was most common for employers to set concrete targets in relation to recruitment and pay for women and in relation to flexible working, but fewer businesses had conducted equal pay audits, introduced greater transparency in bonus awards, promoted apprenticeships for women in areas where they are under-represented or considered positive action.

The EHRC recommends employers refer to the government's evidence-based guide on practical steps to close the gender pay gap, and highlights actions such as:

  • anonymising CVs and application forms
  • ensuring recruitment and promotion procedures are transparent
  • advertising all jobs as being open to flexible working from day one
  • actively promoting shared parental leave to all staff.

Consultation opens on salaried workers and salary sacrifice changes to national minimum wage rules

The government is consulting on whether certain aspects of national minimum wage (NMW) legislation should be amended to ensure that they do not inadvertently penalise employers.

The consultation focuses on the complex rules on salaried hours work and whether they effectively prevent exploitation of workers. The consultation also seeks views on the impact of the NMW rules on salary sacrifice schemes, in particular whether employers are withdrawing schemes from low-paid workers in order to avoid non-compliance with the NMW.

The consultation closes on 1 March 2019 and was published in the same month as it was announced that the food retailer Iceland is to challenge HMRC over a ruling that their Christmas saving scheme for employees and rules on appropriate footwear means that the company is breaching the national minimum wage law.

Expansion of Home Office right to work system

Many companies already use the Home Office's Right to Work Checking Service which was rolled out in April 2018. This free service allows employers to check the right to work status of employees or future hires and check any restrictions on their right to work. The individual must view their right to work record online and then provide their employer with a 'share code' allowing them to access the record. Even if they use the online system, employers still need to request paper documents from the employee or hire to complete their right to work checks.

From 28 January 2019 employees will be able to solely use the online service if a prospective employee has an immigration status that can be checked through it. This includes non-EEA nationals who hold biometric residence cards as well as, in the future, EEA nationals who hold an EU Settlement Scheme permission. EEA nationals who do not hold this status will still need to demonstrate their right to work using paper documents.

An employer using the expanded online service will be excused from a civil penalty if:

  • The online check confirms that the employee is allowed to work in the UK and perform the work in question.
  • The employer is happy that any photograph contained on the online right to work check is of the employee in question.
  • The employer keeps a copy of the online check for at least two years after the employment ends.
  • For students, the employer obtains and retains details of the term and holiday dates for their course of study.

Both the online and paper systems will run in tandem whilst the new system beds in.

In another change to the right to work rules, after 28 January 2019 employers will also be allowed to accept short-form birth and adoption certificates together with a National Insurance number when conducting right to work checks rather than the current long form birth certificate. This will make it easier for British citizens who do not hold a passport to demonstrate their right to work.