You may recall that, in January 2015, we discussed the private members bill requiring the Secretary to of State to make Regulations under Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 (gender pay gap information). Section 78 enables the Secretary of State to make Regulations requiring employers of 250 or more staff to publish information relating to the pay of male and female members of staff. No such Regulations had been made and the private members bill was intended to require the Secretary of State to do so. These proposals were perhaps somewhat unsurprising, given that the voluntary approach previously adopted in relation to gender pay reporting had resulted in very few publications of this nature.
The requirement to make the Regulations now forms part of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill 2014-2015 (the “Bill”). The Bill was passed on its third reading in the House of Lords on 17 March 2015. Final amendments were made to the Bill during the third reading, which have been referred back to the House of Commons for consideration today. Subject to agreement of the final amendments between the Houses, a process often referred to as “ping pong”, it is expected that the Bill will receive Royal Assent before Parliament disbands for the election.
The Bill proposes that, as soon as possible, and no later than 12 months after the passing of the Act, the Secretary of State must make Regulations under Section 78 of the Equality Act 2010 for the purpose of requiring the publication of information showing whether there are differences in the pay of males and females.
The Secretary of State will consult with key stakeholders as to the types of information that must be published in relation to the pay of male and female employees. We suggest that the devil will be in the detail. The Regulations will need to provide for specific and substantive information to be disclosed, rather than generalised statistics, so as to enable female employees to make a proper comparison with their male counterparts in like work or work of equal value.
The measures will seek to encourage more businesses to take prompt action to achieving gender equality in workplaces. With more data available in the public domain, it is expected that companies will pay more attention to their own progress and will regularly review their own pay gaps. Clearly it will take some time before the Regulations are published and implemented, thus giving employers time to get to grips with any existing pay issues. We will keep you updated once the Regulations are published.
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