The gender pay gap – new guidance issued to help organisations close the gap

According to the Office for National Statistics, as at June 2018, the national gender pay gap (GPG) stood at 18.4 per cent as an average across all employees. The Government Equalities Office (GEO) has reported that closing this gap will not be a “quick fix” but that reducing the GPG has become a priority for more companies than ever before. With that in mind, the GEO has published two pieces of guidance to support employers so they can recognise and address their GPG.

The first publication, “Eight ways to understand your gender pay gap”, helps companies ascertain the extent of their GPG and identify areas for improvement. For example, it encourages companies to consider whether:

  • women enter the company in lower paid positions than men; 
  • there is a difference in performance scores within the organisation in relation to gender; 
  • there are any policies and practices that might be contributing to the inconsistency;
  • men and women leave the organisation at different rates; and 
  • individuals who are employed on a part-time basis are being supported to advance within the company.

The GEO’s tips include using staff surveys to identify differences, checking whether there are structural issues that discourage women from applying for high-earning jobs, introducing clear and fair processes for setting pay levels, advertising jobs as flexible and supporting managers to understand how roles can be performed more flexibly.

The second publication, “Four steps to develop a gender pay gap action plan”, helps companies develop an effective action plan through a four-step process. The steps involve:

  1. analysing GPG data and identifying actions that address specific underlying causes;
  2. consulting and engaging with senior leaders (through working groups, surveys and informal feedback sessions) to achieve support for the action plan;
  3. revising, assessing and embedding the action plan by setting targets, appointing a named individual to be in charge and being ready to adapt the plan as required; and
  4. allowing enough time for the action plan to take place, so the employer can fully consider its approach as well as refine its plan to accurately reflect the issues driving its GPG.

The next reporting date is less than a month away (30 March 2019 for public bodies and 4 April 2019 for private companies). Only 1,600 organisations have reported their figures so far and, out of those organisations, around four in 10 private companies are reporting wider gaps than they did last year. Therefore, notwithstanding the results of the outstanding reports expected, the GEO’s guidance is likely to be of use to at least that group of organisations over the next year.

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Helena Rozman

About Helena Rozman

Helena has experience in acting for both employees and employers covering both contentious and non-contentious work. Helena's experience includes defending Employment Tribunal claims and engaging in settlement negotiations; advising clients on complex disciplinary matters, exit strategies and large restructuring exercises, including TUPE and redundancy; co-ordinating and responding to data subject access requests; advising on the employment implications on business and asset purchases and outsourcing arrangements; project managing and advising clients on multi-jurisdictional projects with our international offices; drafting settlement agreements for exiting employees; advising on the employment aspects of corporate transactions and undertaking due diligence; and reviewing contracts, company handbooks and policies.

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