As a result of the continuing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has suspended enforcement of the gender pay gap reporting deadlines for April 2020 snapshot statistics to 5th October 2021. The suspension of any enforcement effectively means that employers have an additional six months to meet their reporting obligations concerning April 2020 data.
In this context, enforcement includes being investigated by the EHCR for committing an unlawful act and court orders being made to require compliance. The consequences of non-compliance also include reputational damage.
Large private sector employers (with 250 or more employees) would have been required to submit their gender pay gap reports by 4th April 2021. The reports are required to show gender pay gaps in relation to salaries and bonuses on a snapshot date, taken as 5th April of the preceding year. The requirement for employers to report 2019 snapshot statistics by April 2020 was also suspended in the context of the pandemic.
The suspension of enforcement action is intended to support businesses through the continuing challenges of the pandemic by not requiring additional administrative tasks while ensuring that gender pay gaps continue to be reported. However, employers are being encouraged to report before October 2021, where possible.
The pandemic has also had unintended consequences with gender pay gap reporting. The extensive usage of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme means employees whose pay was reduced to 80% on 5th April 2020 would not be included in some of the pay gap statistics as employees not receiving their full pay are excluded from reports – which would usually concern employees receiving reduced sick pay or on family-related leave. The exclusion of furloughed employees is likely to artificially affect the results, and the data will not show the actual picture.
Employers should use the additional time afforded by EHRC to prepare any required narrative and action plan to accompany their gender pay gap statistics.