Government halts gender pay gap reporting during COVID-19 outbreak

Enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines suspended for this year as businesses manage impact of COVID-19.

Businesses originally due to report on their gender pay gap in the coming weeks for the year ending 2019/20, have been given respite to put all their efforts into managing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, due to Government regulations that came into force in April 2017, around 10,000 employers with over 250 employees are required to report their gender pay gap data.

Public bodies must report by 30 March and private companies must do so by 4 April. Organisations are also required to publish the breakdown of men and women in different pay quartiles and details of the proportion of men and women in the company who receive bonuses.

COVID-19 impact

Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year, giving businesses the breathing space to focus on other business-critical issues.

In a joint statement, Minister for Women & Equalities, Liz Truss, and EHRC Chair, David Isaac, said: “We recognise that employers across the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty and pressure at this time. Because of this, we feel it is only right to suspend enforcement of gender pay gap reporting this year.”

Culture of inclusion

Rosie Turner, co-CEO and Co-Founder of InChorus, the data platform which enables companies to manage their culture of inclusion is keen to ensure that this doesn’t mean the fight for equality and inclusion in the workplace gets derailed as the world adjusts to the current working climate.

Rosie says: “Of course we are living in unprecedented times and changes need to come in to play to account for this. But the economy needs to find a way to continue to function in the new world we are facing and that includes companies being able to build sustainable workplace cultures and continuing to fight the gender pay imbalance. From the reports already filed it was clear that not only do we still have a significant gender pay gap, three years in to the legal requirement for reporting. And it had also increased from two years ago.

“No matter what changes happen in the world, we cannot abandon the fight to increase diversity and retain women in the workforce. Reporting on pay gaps provides a level of accountability that I’m concerned we will lose. This must not get lost in the fight for our physical health.”

Gender equality

Rebecca Hourston, Managing Director at Talking Talent, urging businesses not to turn their backs on the topic of gender equality altogether: “While the news today that employers will not have to report on their gender pay gap this year due to Covid-19 is understandable – given the pressure businesses currently face amid the pandemic – it is crucial for businesses to not lose sight of the importance of gender equality.  

“Forward-thinking companies must nurture, engage, enhance and invest in a diverse workforce. Ultimately, it will be these organisations that will be built for long-term, sustained success, particularly in times of such unforeseen turbulence and uncertainty.”

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