The gender pay gap reporting deadline is almost upon us - the deadline is 4 April 2018. Despite this, it is believed that many of the estimated 9,000 qualifying organisations are yet to publish their reports.

The exercise is part of an effort to promote gender equality in the workplace. The gender pay gap is the difference in average pay between men and women in the workforce. Companies also have to publish figures showing what proportion of their top paying jobs are held by women and the proportion of men and women that receive bonuses.

Research by XpertHR last year found that, despite having already carried out the calculations required under the reporting rules, many employers were holding back from publishing their figures in order to avoid drawing attention to their gender pay gap. A third (32.3%) of employers said the regulations were difficult to understand, while 18.8% said finding time to carry out the work was problematic. One-fifth (19.8%) said they were finding it difficult to construct their report.

Despite a lack of specific sanctions under the new regulation, Rebecca Hilsenrath, the Chief Executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), has warned employers that they could be pursued through the courts if they fail to report their gender pay gap, stating: “Let me be very, very clear: failing to report is breaking the law. We have the powers to enforce against companies who are in breach of these regulations.”

Under the EHRC’s enforcement strategy, all eligible organisations that have failed to publish their gender pay data will be written to by the commission on 9 April, giving them 28 days to comply with the law. Shortly after the compliance date, the number of non-compliant companies will be published on social media. Should an organisation subsequently fail to comply, they could then come under investigation for a suspected unlawful breach of the gender pay reporting rules, which could result in the employer being taken to court, where the EHRC would seek an unlimited fine. 

With around 25% of the 9000 employers that by law must report their gender pay gap before the deadline having not yet registered to do so, it is vital to act now.

Some basic facts about the reporting requirements include :

The rules apply to  all private and public sector businesses in the UK with over 250 employees.

Gender Pay Gap reporting is a different legal requirement to carrying out an equal pay audit.

The definition of who counts as an employee is used from the Equality Act 2010, which means some other workers may be included, as well as some self-employed people. Agency workers are included but counted by the agency providing them.

There are six calculations to carry out (mean and median calculations are involved) and employers will need to set aside some time to complete the calculations, so these should not be left until the last minute.

The results must be published on the employer’s website and a Government website within 12 months, and they also must be confirmed by an appropriate senior person, (director or a Chief Executive).The results will be publicly available and the information needs to be published annually.

Employers will need to publish the gender pay gaps for any bonuses paid out during the year. Bonus payments,  the processing of and reporting of bonus payments has always been a tricky issue. With the new Gender Pay Gap Reporting rules, employers will also have to publish the proportion of male and proportion of female employees that received a bonus during the year.

In an attempt to explain their figures, employers can give a written response to support their statistics; reasons behind the gender pay gap and what actions are being taken to reduce it.

If you are currently yet to fulfil your reporting obligations, you should take immediate action to avoid a potential fine and the embarrassment of having your details published by the EHRC as one of those organisations who have failed to comply with their legal duty.