Gender Pay Gap Reporting: New Legislation

Posted on 28/3/2018 by Katherine Memery

New gender pay gap reporting regulations are coming in to force at the end of March/early April 2018 which make it compulsory for employers with more than 250 employees to report their gender pay gap. With the deadline upon us, let’s take a look at the new reporting rules and review the current situation within the legal sector.

Firstly, what is the gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is the average difference of pay between men and women in any given workplace. This is not to be confused with equal pay under the Equal Pay Act 1970 and the more recent Equality Act 2010, whereby it is illegal to pay men and women differently for doing the same or similar job.

What are the new gender pay gap reporting rules?

The new gender pay gap rules affect companies in the UK with more than 250 employees. To comply, public and private sector employers must report (publish) their gender pay gap statistics to the Government Equalities Office (GEO) – for public sector employers, the deadline is 30th March 2018, and for private sector employers, the deadline is 4th April 2018. Going forward, this will be an annual requirement.

As the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) state:

“Although [the new regulations] will take steps to encourage compliance and engage informally with employers who are in breach of the regulations as a first port of call, it will ultimately enforce against all employers who do not publish their gender pay gap information.”

Failure to comply could result in unlimited fines and convictions – therefore, transparency is key.

The gender pay gap is calculated by working out the mean and median figures of hourly pay (full details can be found on the Government website). Information about bonus payment gaps must also be included as part of the report. Should a company find that a gender pay gap exists within their organisation, there are ways to address this and companies can include proposed plans on tackling the issue at the time of submission. Take a look at this helpful video for more information.

Gender pay gap within the legal sector – what’s the current situation?

In the most recent gender pay gap report to be published by the Law Society Group (which includes results from the Law Society Group and the Solicitors Regulation Authority), the median pay gap was 5.6% (well below the UK median of 18.4% - the Office of National Statistics) and the mean pay gap was 11.1%.

This is a vast improvement on the statistics we detailed in a previous blog post on the subject of women in the legal sector (a year ago), which found a median gender pay gap of 19.2% (while the UK average was 18.1%). While we can’t make a direct comparison for the mean figures, the median would suggest the legal sector is making good progress in reducing the gap. However, there’s still some way to go.

What’s the reason behind the gender pay gap?

Law Society Spokesperson identified an imbalance within the most senior roles as the primary reason, commenting, “Around 60% of the Law Society Group workforce is female, and they are represented at all levels, including many middle managers in the upper quartile. Yet fewer women are in senior executive roles.”

In our previous blog (referred to above), we touched on two ways diversity can be achieved:

  • By promoting a supportive culture
  • By introducing widespread flexible working patterns

Ultimately, progress relies on firms collaborating to encourage and support women and eliminate any outdated attitudes.

What’s next for the legal sector?

The Law Society spokesperson concluded, “The Law Society and SRA have targeted action plans at an organisational level to address this challenge, and the Group is committed to reducing the gender pay gap.”

Let’s hope our next update on the subject brings positive news of gender pay progress. In the meantime, don’t forget to publish your gender pay gap.

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