HR Expert: Equal pay day and the importance of equal remuneration
My client has contacted me after being told about ‘Equal Pay’ day by one of his employees. He employs a number of women, who have started to join together and raise issues about the equality of pay within the organisation. My client does have a pay secrecy clause in the contracts, which means they shouldn’t be sharing their pay information with each other.

He wants to know, can he a) stop them talking about pay, as they’re losing focus, and b) what steps he can take to make sure the pay is equal?

Firstly, pay secrecy clauses are not enforceable, so there is little your client can do to prevent his employees talking about this. Whilst he may discourage his employees from doing so due to the disruption it causes, he cannot formally stop them and any action taken to prevent it could inflame the issue further.

Secondly, ‘equal pay’ day is a significant day for anyone concerned about equality in pay between the sexes. 18th November has been identified as the day from which, to the end of the year, women stop earning relative to men. Essentially, it is the date from which women work for free. This, of course, is not precise. It is based on national gender pay gap for 2021, which is 11.9% (up from 10.6% last year). Whilst it does not necessarily reflect the position of your clients organisation, it is a useful prompt for many to look more closely at their own gender pay gap.

Organisations with 250 or more employees must report annually on their gender pay gap, following prescribed reporting methods as laid down in the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations2017, which took affect 6 April 2017. This report must be made publicly available, and come with an accompanying statement confirming that is accurate. A supportive narrative is also encouraged to accompany the report (although it is not required), which sets out the reasons for the gap, measures to reduce it, either to be put in place or that are already in place, and any successful reduction in the gap and its positive impact already seen.

If your client does not meet the threshold, he is not legally required to produce a gender pay gap report. However, he may decide to put one together anyway, on a voluntary basis. This will help him to dig more deeply into the gender pay gap within the organisation, and assess if it needs to be dealt with or not. He may also then wish to share it with his staff to either prove there is not a concern over pay between the genders, or as a basis to gather ideas and put in place an action plan to resolve the gap.

Recently, there have also been calls to introduce an ethnicity pay gap reporting requirement. At the moment, any reporting of this nature is done voluntarily. This is a more complicated calculation, due to the different definitions and huge variety of ethnicity, and guidance is available for those considering taking this next step.

Further information and template reports are available online on the gender pay gap.

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HR Expert: Equal pay day and the importance of equal remuneration
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