The extended Gender Pay Gap deadline is fast approaching. For organisations with 250 or more employees, the Equality and Human Rights Commission will begin enforcement action against late reporters on the 5th October 2021.
So far, some 5,600 organisations have submitted their reports. However, the percentages in many of these reports cannot be taken at face value, as this years’ gender pay gap percentages have been skewed.
An abnormally high number of employees on reduced pay leave.
She says, “Gender Pay Gap reporting is in place to bring about better gender equality in the workplace, which we can only achieve with timely, accurate and consistent data.”
“Companies must analyse their entire workforce (furloughed or otherwise) in order to gain a true picture of where they stand and to drive accountability, action and improvement.”
The gender pay gap, the difference in the average earnings between men and women, has been a significant cause for concern for many decades. Usually felt by women, and while it shows signs of closing, the gap remains a symbol of inequality between the sexes. In an attempt to address this, the Government introduced an obligation on employers with at least 250 members of staff to publish data on the salary of their male and female employees annually – a ‘snapshot’ of their gender pay data.
Earlier this year, the Government Equality Office (GEO) confirmed that furlough is a form of leave. This means that, unless employers are topping furloughed staff’s pay back up to 100 per cent, they do not meet the legislation’s criteria for full pay and should be excluded from the Gender Pay Gap section of the report; although they’ll still need to be included in the Gender Bonus Gap section.
Considering the obvious effects that COVID-19 have had on the workforce, it would have been viable for the GEO to add another metric to the 2020 and 2021 reports: percentage of employees excluded from report due to furlough. Yet, because the GEO did not add this metric, many of the reports submitted will have figures that stray from the real story. In turn, their Gender Pay Gap reports will contain data that is not entirely accurate.
Daisy Hooper, Head of Policy at the CMI, has noted the impact of the pandemic on gender equality. She says, “There has been some positive progress toward gender equality in recent years, and gender pay gap reporting has been the driver for this progress in organisations.”
“But we risk undoing the gains as a result of the global pandemic’s impact on women, who are more likely to have lost their job or have been furloughed.”
Going forward, she says, “It is essential for leaders to prioritise implementing action plans to remedy issues identified by the data and through consultation with their employees.”
“Training all managers to role-model and implement the practices that support women to thrive benefits all workers, and will ensure that together we build back better and more inclusively.”
As of April 2021, there were still between 3-4 million employees on furlough. This means that the 2021 statistics may still be anomalous for many organisations and present a misleading picture of progress towards gender equality.