Due to the continued effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, enforcement action against employers failing to report their gender pay gap will start on 5 October 2021, the Equality and Human rights Commission (EHRC) has announced. Enforcement for the reporting year 2019/20 was suspended in March 2020 at the start of pandemic.
The changes for the 2020/21 reporting year gives those required to meet the regulations an additional six months to report their data before legal action begins.
The Gender Pay Gap Regulations require employers with 250 or more members of staff to report their gender pay gap.
The regulations state that public sector bodies covered by the regulations must report their data by 30 March. Private sector employers across Great Britain are required to report by 4 April. Employers are encouraged to submit their data for 2020/2021 before October where possible.
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said, “We know businesses are still facing challenging times. Starting our legal process in October strikes the right balance between supporting businesses and enforcing these important regulations.
“Taking action to reduce the gender pay gap must continue. Reporting provides an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality, which will be more important than ever as the effects of the pandemic continue. Employers should still report their gender pay gap data for 2020/21 on time if they can and we encourage them to demonstrate the steps they are taking to reduce long-term pay gaps through detailed action plans.”
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:
“The COVID-crisis cannot be allowed to undermine companies’ commitments to tackle all forms of inequality, so resuming mandatory gender pay gap reporting is the right thing to do.
“Businesses will welcome certainty about what they are expected to disclose and by when. Reinstating enforcement from October 2021 will ensure that all firms within scope publish their data, while giving those who have been closed for most of the last year more time to do so.
“Furlough could have a significant impact on pay gap data. So it’s even more important that companies explain changes to their pay gaps and what prompt action they will be taking to close them.”
The Equality and Human Rights Commission will begin its enforcement after the six-month period, contacting employers that have not submitted their data. The EHRC has the power to investigate employers that fail to report their gender pay gap data which could lead to unlimited fines after court action. The requirement for public sector organisations to report other information under the Public Sector Equality Duty remains.