NEWS18 February 2021

Calls to reinstate gender pay gap reporting

Covid-19 Media News Public Sector Trends UK

UK – Women in Advertising and Communications (Wacl) has called on the government to reinstate mandatory gender pay gap reporting, which was suspended in 2020 due to Covid-19.

Two wooden figurines positioned on wooden blocks with a gap between them

Wacl is one of several organisations to have signed a joint statement pushing for the reinstatement of reporting, led by the Fawcett Society and including the Chartered Management Institute and TUC.

“Decades of work to close the gender pay gap is at stake if this flagship report is shelved,” Wacl said in a statement. “Gender pay gap reporting actively contributes to a more equal society and in a post-Covid-19 world, a commitment to reinstating this flagship annual report has become more critical than ever.”

Gender pay gap reporting was introduced in the UK in 2017, with larger organisations (those with more than 250 staff) required by law to publish their gender pay gap data – the difference between the average (mean or median) earnings of men and women across a workforce.

The Government Equalities Office and the Equality and Human Rights Commission suspended gender pay gap data reporting in March 2020 due to the pandemic, ahead of the April deadline for the 2019-20 reporting year.

The move means there has been no expectation on large employers to report their data.

The government has not confirmed whether or not reporting of gender pay data will be enforced this year.

A report published last week ( 9th February) by the Women and Equalities Select Committee raised concerns that the government’s plans for economic recovery from the pandemic are “highly gendered in nature”.

The report recommended that gender pay gap reporting is urgently reinstated and that data is published for both the 2019/20 and 2020/21 financial years this April.

Felicia Willow, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “We know more women have been furloughed, have lost their jobs, have had their hours cut, and have had greater disruption due to home schooling than men. And, we know that the impact on disabled women, Black women, and other minority groups has been even worse.

“Gender pay gap reporting is one way that employers can identify issues that need action. A year ago, we didn't know what we faced. Now, we know that we face significantly worsening inequality that may take decades to redress. There is no reasonable argument supporting the claim that gender pay gap reporting should remain unenforced in 2021.”

Wacl is calling people to sign a petition via a social media and outdoor advertising campaign, and is also campaigning for the introduction of mandatory ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting. 

The Cabinet Office did not respond to a request for comment in time for publication.