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Mind the Gap: Gender pay and the workplace

As David Cameron announces his plans to tackle the gender pay gap we encourage all employers to assess their current position and take steps to address any issues before the reporting requirements come into play.

Within the next 12 months, legislation will be implemented that requires all employers with more than 250 employees, for the first time, to publish figures showing the differences in pay between men and women in their workplace. How this will be implemented and precisely what the obligations will entail have yet to be announced, but what is clear is the commitment Cameron and the Conservative government are making to the objective, making it compulsory, arguably as a result of a disappointing response to previous voluntary reporting attempts.

Nationally the gender pay gap stands at 19.1% and looks to continue on a downward trend. The changes are intended to reduce the gap, encouraging equal pay across the board.

The new mandatory approach is likely to require employers to publish figures on an annual basis, setting out detail of the overall pay gap together with full-time and part-time pay gaps. The implementation of legislation imposing this duty will shine a spotlight on pay equality throughout the private sector. Even those employers not required to comply may find employees taking an increasing interest as a consequence of growing media attention.

Historically, equal pay claims have fallen within the public sector however, the focus on pay equality is likely to be the catalyst for claims in the private sector. Equal pay claims require an employee to establish a comparator of the opposite sex who is performing like work, work of equal value or work rated as equivalent. This level of detail will not be readily available from the new reports; however, employers should be prepared for an increase in focus on this area and a rising level of interest from employees looking to elicit this information.

As those of you that attended our latest seminar heard, employers can, and should, take steps to address these issues well before the reporting requirements are imposed. The possibility of reputational damage and a negative impact on staff morale are just two factors to consider, both of which may be more detrimental to a business than any fine imposed for non-compliance with the reporting duty.

The Square One Law employment team can help you take action to minimise risk by reviewing current pay practices and analysing the potential risk areas. We will also be hosting workshops in November to help employers plan for the changes. To register an interest in attending a workshop or for any further information please contact Eleanor Wilkinson.

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