NEWS12 April 2019

Gender pay gap reporting ‘flawed’ and ‘confusing’

News Trends UK

UK – The UK’s system of gender pay gap reporting is statistically flawed in practice, according to the Royal Statistical Society.

woman writing on a document while having a cup of coffee

The current approach is confusing for employers and open to companies ‘gaming’ the system, the industry body has said, as it outlines several recommendations to improve the process.

Employers in Britain with more than 250 staff have been required to publish their gender pay gap data since April 2017.

The Royal Statistical Society’s recommendations for change include the introduction of free online ‘gender pay calculators’ with built-in ‘sanity checks’, that would ensure accuracy and automatically question employers attempting to make implausible entries.

Gender pay data should also be presented in pounds and pence only, rather than including percentages as well, ‘to make the system simpler, more intuitive and less confusing,’ the society said.

The body also proposes:

  • Improved government guidance for employers on the calculation of the median pay gap and the use of income quartiles
  • The pay gap should also be calculated by quartile to make it more difficult for employers to ‘game’ the system
  • Employers’ results should be published side-by-side to allow progress to be assessed more easily
  • Keeping the current threshold at 250 employees, but flagging organisations employing fewer than 100 women or men, to protect smaller companies
  • Improving HR professionals’ statistical skills. 

Professor Jen Rogers, vice-president for external affairs, Royal Statistical Society, said: “We warmly welcomed the government’s original decision to introduce gender pay gap reporting. We also recognise the important improvements that it has since made. But we would urge it to go further and faster.”

Rogers added that heeding the recommendations would “turn a system that’s great in principle into one that’s equally impressive in practice”.