Changes to gender pay gap reporting under consideration

10 June 2019


In a parliamentary review of the effectiveness of gender pay gap reporting, under discussion was the consideration of extending reporting to smaller firms before the formal review of the gender pay gap legislation in 2022.


Hilary Spencer, Director, Government Equalities Office (GEO), who was providing evidence to the Treasury Committee, said that there are a number of ways to take reporting in the future. One option being to lower the threshold, another to ask for more data on gender, and another to ask for data about different characteristics.


When asked what the timescale for any changes would be, the Director referred to the formal review of the gender pay gap legislation, which is five years after it was introduced (2022) but then went on to say:


“However, our view is that there is a pretty crucial window between years 3 and 5 where, if year 1 was people getting up to speed with their reporting requirements and year 2 is trying to start making a difference, you want to start seeing changes between years 3 and 5. In our view, there is probably an argument for making some changes to the reporting regime from year 3 onwards…”


When asked if proposals will be put forward to the government soon, the Director’s response was yes, that the GEO is actively working on this and will be putting the advice to Ministers on options going forward, including questions about ethnicity pay gap reporting.


The question of action plans is another area that the GEO is currently putting advice together on for Ministers. There have been, in some sectors, a call for making action plans compulsory in some way so the GEO has been exploring what that might look like.


Enforcement was also discussed although the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) were not present at this particular review and they are the enforcers of gender pay gap reporting. However, the GEO said that it is considering a whole range of things. One is whether it requires companies to publish more information about what they are doing, i.e. their policies. Another is whether to ask them to publish more data such as looking at numbers of women on boards or retention post-maternity leave.


There is also the question of whether the powers of the EHRC might need to be changed. Hilary Spencer mentioned that there was another Select Committee hearing in progress, where evidence is being given on whether the enforcement powers of the EHRC, more generally, in relation to the Equality Act, ought to be increased.


Full details of the evidence provided to the Treasury Committee on the effectiveness of gender pay gap reporting can be found here.