The long-awaited Acas guidance, "Managing gender pay reporting in the private and voluntary sectors" has now been published, although it technically remains in draft form until the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 are approved by Parliament, which is expected to happen this week. We reported on the Regulations when they were first published in final form in December 2016 – you can access our article summarising what they require here.
Explaining the Regulations
The Acas guidance is intended to accompany the Regulations and assist employers in understanding and complying with their gender pay gap reporting obligations. To this end, it sets out a step-by-step list of actions for affected employers (i.e. those with 250 or more employees). It identifies how to gather the information required; explains the relevant calculations with simple illustrative examples; sets out what employers must include in their supporting statement (a confirmation of accuracy signed by a director or equivalent) while strongly suggesting that they should also provide a more detailed explanatory narrative; and confirms when and where employers must publish their reports.
Most importantly, of course, the guidance describes the key terms in the Regulations, which employers will need to understand in order to carry out the gender pay gap calculations accurately. In particular, it provides explanations on some tricky issues, such as how employers should determine whether their overseas workers will be considered "relevant employees" for the purposes of gender pay gap reporting; how to deal with bonuses; and what must be included in the calculation of employees’ hourly rate of pay, on which most of the gender pay gap calculations are based. However, there are certain gaps in the guidance and potential contradictions with the wording of the Regulations, e.g. in relation to overtime and working hours and pay relating to overtime.
Encouraging voluntary further action
There is also a strong focus on encouraging employers to do more than the bare minimum of calculating and publishing the required gender pay figures, with the guidance citing the advantages to employers, both legal and reputational, of publishing their reports as soon as practicable after the 5th April snapshot date and of taking action to reduce gender pay inequality and improve gender diversity more generally within their organisations.
Alongside the guidance, Acas has also published two factsheets – one summarising the reporting obligations and another which it describes as a "myth busting" document – as well as a template communications document that employers can adapt and use to explain to their employees what they will be doing around gender pay gap reporting. Even with the Acas guidance and additional materials, however, employers are likely to find gender pay reporting a challenge given the intricacy of the calculations required and the limitations of the guidance.
How EEF can help
Our seminar series – "Gender Pay Reporting: How to comply" – will take you step by step through the new legal requirements. We will tell you what you need to do, when, and how best to do it. We will help ensure that your organisation is not only compliant but also shown in the best possible light. For more information, dates, and to book a place, click here.
In addition to our seminars, we will also be offering:
- In-house visioning and scoping workshops, which will provide an update on the law tailored to your organisation and a structured interactive session with your key HR/management drawing out your main areas of concern and considering possible solutions.
- Bespoke gender pay consultancy services, which could include comprehensive assistance with data gathering and calculations, drafting the gender pay report and accompanying narrative, preparing an action plan to improve gender pay equality, communications advice and strategy, and assistance where your calculations bring to light a possible equal pay issue.
For further information on these services, please speak to our HR consultancy team or email HRenquire@eef.org.uk.
We will be updating our online resources on gender pay gap reporting shortly, and members who have already attended our seminar will be sent a new version of any handouts provided, updated to reflect the Acas guidance.