About six weeks and still well over 9,000 pay gap reports are still to be published on the UK Government website according to the GPG data website. Personnel Today have recently reported that, according to a data analytics firm, this is ahead of the number reported this time last year by about a third, but despite that it still looks like most businesses who require to report seem to be leaving it to the last minute.
The same analytics firm has looked at the first 1000 reports and found that 31% of them contain errors - these appear to be primarily administrative errors in the production of the report such as it being signed by the wrong person or (most commonly) failing to provide a link to a written report, despite there being a requirement to publish the report on a website accessible by both employees and the public for a minimum of three years. It also picked up on an issue already identified by both the Equality and Human Rights Commission and BEIS - that most reports lack detail on the steps being taken to close the gender pay gap and how the outcomes of these steps are measured.
This is something that has also been reflected in the findings of a Government Equalities Office ("GEO") research report published in January 2019. The research suggests that few businesses have actually developed measurable targeted actions to close their GPGs.
This failure to develop action plans may go some way to explaining why, according to research by the BBC, 40% of larger private firms have seen their gender pay gap increase from 12 months ago. Looking on the bright side this might mean that there has been progress (or at least the gap has remained static) in 60% of organisations But, as highlighted in our earlier article on this topic, real improvement may only be measurable once the 2020 figures become available.
In February, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) published two more sets of guidance aimed at assisting employers to get a better understanding of the potential causes of their gender pay gap and to develop a gender pay gap action plan. Eight ways to understand your gender pay gap sets out eight key questions for employers to consider which should assist them in identifying potential causes of their gender pay gap. Four steps to developing a gender pay gap action plan is based on what employers, who have successfully developed and implemented an effective action plan, have fed back to the GEO about that process.
For the gender pay gap reporting requirements to be effective in eliminating the gap organisations need to change their focus from simply complying with the reporting requirements to taking action to address it. It seems there is still much to be done.