The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 were published earlier this week. These extend the requirement to report on gender pay and largely bring the obligations in line with the private sector. The final form regulations will however sit within the existing public sector equality duty (and be included as schedule 1 to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017) rather than being a stand-alone set of regulations as is the case within the private sector.

The requirements will apply to all relevant public authorities in England. Within the education sector this includes any of the following which have 250 or more employees on the snapshot date:

  • the governing body of an educational establishment maintained by an English local authority
  • the governing body of an institution in England within the further education sector
  • the governing body of an institution in England within the higher education sector
  • the proprietor of a City Technology College, City College for Technology of the Arts, or an Academy
  • HEFCE and the Student Loans Company.

General requirements

The Government previously indicated its intention to align the gender pay gap reporting regimes of the private and public sectors. This is, in the main, reflected in the final form regulations.

For example, both regimes:

  • require the same sets of information to be published
  • provide for the same method of calculating the hourly rate of pay and weekly working hours
  • include the same definitions for pay, pay period and bonus pay
  • require the same approach to representing the pay quartile information
  • do not require any accompanying narrative to be provided (although this is recommended)
  • specify that the report is published annually.

Key differences

There are, however, important differences between the two regimes:

  • The public sector regulations come into force on 31 March 2017 whereas the private sector regulations take effect from 6 April 2017.
  • As a result of the different implementation date, the snapshot date for the public sector duty is 31 March each year rather than 5 April. This means the public authorities will be required to publish their first gender pay gap reports by 30 March 2018 (before private employers).
  • Although public authorities have the same requirement to publish the report on their website and on a government website, there is no requirement for the report to be accompanied by a signed statement from a senior individual within the organisation, as is the case for the private sector.

Key obligations

By way of reminder for both public and private sector employers, the key obligations introduced by the regulations are as follows:

  • Employers must publish the mean and median hourly pay gap between men and women. 'Pay' for this purpose includes any bonuses paid in the pay period.
  • Employers must report the annual bonus gap between men and women. 'Bonus' is defined widely and includes commission.
  • The regulations now include a requirement to publish the difference in the median bonus pay figure in addition to the mean figure (this is in line with the position for the hourly pay gap).
  • Employers must publish the number of men and women in each quartile pay band.

If you have not already done so, now is the time to produce a gender pay report to highlight, and if possible correct areas of difficulty before the report has to be presented.