The gender pay gap reporting deadline for the 2020/21 reporting period has been extended from 4 April 2021 to 4 October 2021.
On 8 March 2021, the UK government announced the creation of the Gender Equality Advisory Council (GEAC) to lead the nation’s gender equality work at the G7. The GEAC, led by Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss MP and chaired by journalist and author Sarah Sands, will include members from each G7 country. GEAC will make recommendations to the G7 on policy to boost women’s empowerment with a particular focus on science and technology, and is seen as a central component of the UK’s broader role as G7 president this year.
Six-Month Reporting Extension
Meanwhile, the UK government has announced that due to the continuing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the gender pay gap reporting deadline for the 2020/21 reporting period has been extended from 4 April 2021 to 4 October 2021.
Employers and human resource professionals will recall that the gender pay gap reporting requirement for the 2019/20 period was suspended entirely last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the government has confirmed that there is no requirement to report on those figures at all. Notably however, despite this suspended deadline, around half of companies still voluntarily reported their data in April 2020 for their 2019/20 year, highlighting the benefits of reporting and publishing pay gap figures (most notably, from a reputational standpoint). Organisations may take a similar view this year and seek to voluntarily publish their figures before the clock starts on the government’s enforcement action beginning 5 October 2021. However, this latest government decision gives employers who are legally obliged to file their gender pay gap statistics (that is, employers with 250 or more employees) an extra six months to do so, without fear of enforcement action taking place.
What This Means for Employers
So―notwithstanding the extension―what should UK employers be doing now? Ensuring that figures are accurate; understanding the causes of gender pay gaps; identifying what, if any, action needs to be taken; and drafting an appropriate accompanying narrative all takes time. Whilst some employers may already be well ahead in their 2020/21 gender pay gap reporting preparations (and may still want to report their figures over the coming weeks, not least for the reputational benefits mentioned), a number of employers―perhaps those whose figures are heavily impacted by COVID-19―will find this additional time useful. Indeed, where workforces have been significantly affected by COVID-19, the relevant pay data will likely present a distorted picture of the gender pay gap in their workforce. As such, if the impact is significant, employers may elect to add a section into the accompanying narrative to explain how the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on their figures and detail what action is being taken to close the gap.
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