The Government has given a strong indication that it intends to plough ahead with gender pay gap reporting obligations, after publishing a commencement order that brings s.78 of the Equality Act 2010 into force.
Section 78, which will come into force on 22 August 2016, is the provision enabling Regulations to be made requiring employers with more than 250 employees to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women.
However, a final version of the gender pay gap reporting Regulations is yet to be published, despite the consultation on the new Regulations stating they would come into force on 1 October 2016, requiring employers to publish reports from April 2018.
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It is now understood that the Regulations may not come into force until April 2017, and the final version of the Regulations may be published later than expected this year.
The delay in publishing the final version means that employers will have less time to get to grips with their obligations.
There is also likely to be a considerable amount of change in the specific requirements as currently drafted.
On the other hand, there is unlikely to be much movement on the rest of the gender pay gap reporting timetable.
If the Government sticks to its plans, employers will not need to publish pay gap information until April 2018.
However, this pay information will need to be based on data from a specific pay period every April, beginning in April 2017, and the bonus information will need to be based on the preceding 12-month period.
It is understood that the Government plans to extend the requirement to publish gender pay gap information to public-sector employers within the same time frame.
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Bar Huberman, employment law editor at XpertHR, said: “It is hoped that, while implementation of the gender pay gap reporting Regulations will be delayed until next year, this will not stop the Government from publishing the final version as soon as possible.
“There are gaps in the current draft version, creating confusion and disagreements among HR professionals and lawyers around what employers will actually be required to do.
“While the Regulations have no enforcement provisions, employers are taking them seriously and are keen to do as much as they can to prepare for the new requirements, because they realise the potential damage to their reputation if they fail to comply.”