Large businesses in the region are being warned that they need to prepare in advance of new legislation that is coming into force next month. The new rules require private and voluntary sector employers with at least 250 employees to publish information about their gender pay gap by 25 March 2016.

The Office of National Statistics has said that the gender pay gap has changed “relatively little” over the past four years. The gap between men and women’s pay for full-time workers was 9.4% in April 2015 compared with 9.6% in 2014.

It has recently been reported in the media that female graduates are often earning as much as £8000 less than their male counterparts. The Equality and Human Rights Commission has said that women’s educational success is not being carried through to the workplace, with many earning less than men even if they have studied the same subject. The Commission said that female graduates start on salaries between £15,000 and just under £24,000 whilst their male counterparts are more likely to be paid more than £24,000.

The Prime Minister and the Women and Equalities Minister, Nicky Morgan MP, have announced new measures as part of wider plans (which have not as yet been published), to address gender pay inequality and “end the gender pay gap in a generation”.

The government has now confirmed that bonus information will be included within the gender pay gap reporting and that public sector employers will also be required to publish gender pay data. The provisional deadline set for the introduction of gender pay gap reporting regulations is 26 March 2016.

Employers will need to give consideration to the issue and establish what roles within their business are equal. For instance, “like work” which is the same or broadly similar, “equivalent work” where the demands of a job are equal to those of another job and “work of equal value” which is work that is different but of equal value when considering the demands of the role. Employers will need to look at any pay gaps between male and female employees in equal roles and determine whether gender is a possible reason for any differences and if it is, take steps to address it. If you require any assistance on gender pay or any other form of discrimination, please contact our employment law solicitors here.