On 24 March 2020, the Gender Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) released a news story as follows:
Due to the Coronavirus outbreak, the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) have today, 24th March, taken the decision to suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for this reporting year (2019/20).
The decision means there will be no expectation on employers to report their data.
I was confused when I first read this. I initially interpreted this that the Gender Pay Gap Report (GPGR) for tax year 2019/20 had been suspended. However, we have to think about the way GPGR information is reported. I have tried to break this down in a way that I am able to convey the correct information effectively:
Who has to report?
In the first instance, it is necessary to know who is ‘caught’ by the obligations to report in the first place. Whilst I am sure that employers already know if there is an obligation, I thought that I would point readers to the GPGR overview guidance, particularly the part about who is a ‘Relevant Employer’.
What has to be reported?
Again, I am sure that this is known, however, it is worthwhile linking to the above guidance, specifically the part about ‘Data you must publish and report’.
It is necessary to look at these to decipher what the news story has actually suspended. There are two sets of dates:
The snapshot date
When an employer has seemed themselves as ‘relevant’ and within the scope of the GPGR legislation, they need to look at the number of ‘relevant employees’ employed on the snapshot date. There are two snapshot dates:
- 31 March for public sector organisations
- 05 April for businesses and charities in the private sector
(Then of course, there is whittling down the relevant employees into full-time relevant employees for the reporting itself – however, that is outside of the scope of this article.)
The snapshot date has not changed, has not been suspended and is not covered in the GEO and EHRC news story. Relevant employees employed on 31 March 2020 and 05 April 2020 is still a consideration for relevant employers.
The reporting date
Within one year of the snapshot date, relevant employers within the scope of the legislation must publish their data. This means
- 30 March for public sector organisations
- 04 April for businesses and charities in the private sector
This has to be published on a public-facing Website with a written statement. If it is not published by this time, the EHRC can take a range of enforcement measures.
This is the date that has been suspended. So, this applies to data collected at the 2019 snapshot dates. It is the reporting of information by the 2020 reporting dates that has been suspended or, more accurately, the enforcement action that could be taken by EHRC if the information is not published.
This is a sensible announcement at this time and one that will put at rest the minds of the 74% of employers that are expected to report. At difficult times for HR and payroll departments, there is the assurance that non-reporting will not result in a range of enforcement measures by the ERHC.
However, although the reporting date has been suspended, it does not mean that it has disappeared altogether. Maybe it will be reinstated, even though the announcement says that there is no expectation for employers to report. Plus, there are many reasons why employers will want to publish this information.
My action plan would be as follows:
- Consider whether you are able to publish this information, regardless of the announcement. Some employers may want to maintain their history on the Gender Pay Gap Service
- Consider whether you believe it is responsible to publish this information. There are many prospective clients that use the Service to look at whether there are any pay gaps within your company. Plus, if you competitors have published, this might give them an advantage when things get back to normal
- Remember that the announcement refers to the data due to be reported in 2020 (but collected at the 2019 snapshot date). That is what is meant by ‘2019/20’ in the GEO announcement and it does not relate to tax year 2019/20
- Don’t forget that the 2020 snapshot dates have not been suspended / postponed. There is still an obligation to recognise relevant employers and employees on this date