UK Gender Pay Gap Reporting: The Story So Far

by Morgan Lewis

Morgan Lewis

In the United Kingdom, gender diversity and equal pay have been hitting the headlines. Halfway through the UK's first gender pay reporting year and with less than six months to go until the deadline for publication of statistics, how many employers have reported and what trends are we seeing?

By April 4, 2018, employers in Great Britain with 250 or more employees must publish the following statistics on their own websites and on the government’s designated website:

  • Gender pay gap (mean and median averages between men’s and women’s hourly pay)
  • Gender bonus gap (mean and median averages between bonus pay awarded to men and women)
  • Proportion of men and women receiving bonuses
  • Proportion of men and women in each quartile of the employer’s pay structure

Employers will be expected to publish this information annually, in compliance with The Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 (the “Regulations”). The task of managing the reporting process, and the accuracy of the information published, falls upon senior management, with a director or other “appropriate person” required to sign off on the information and confirm its accuracy.

While there are no formal sanctions for noncompliance under the Regulations, employers who fail to publish their statistics by the deadline are likely to be named and shamed. The guidance to the Regulations also suggests that the Equality and Human Rights Commission may take enforcement action in the case of a complete failure to report. Employers should be aware that there is a risk that their gender pay statistics, particularly in relation to bonus pay, may be used as the basis for sex discrimination and equal pay claims, and therefore pay structures and any discrepancies should be given careful consideration. It is also an opportunity for employers to tell their story—justifying a bigger gap where necessary, but demonstrating the positive measures a company is putting in place to address the issue and strive for improvement.

Six Months In—What Do the Reports Look Like?

So far, less than 1% of in-scope companies have published their gender pay gap statistics. Those who have done so range from local authorities to large employers such as Deloitte, SSE, Virgin Money, TSB, and Weetabix.

Notably, while it is not mandatory to produce a narrative alongside the statistics, the majority of employers who have reported so far have chosen to do so. However, the approach taken to the accompanying narrative differs significantly. Many employers have focused on limiting the legal risk arising from their statistics, while others have used the narrative as a public relations (PR) and recruitment tool.

In order to minimize the risk of claims arising in connection with their gender pay statistics, employers have tended to spell out the fact that the gender pay gap is a direct result of a higher concentration of men in senior roles and women in lower-paid roles, as opposed to discriminatory pay policies. The publication of gender pay statistics has presented employers with the opportunity to consider their talent pipeline, review how many women are entering the business and at what levels, and give thought to how these women can be retained and progress to senior management. Setting out in the narrative any programs and initiatives put in place to address imbalances can be an effective way to demonstrate that the organization is taking the issue seriously and making genuine efforts to improve.

By way of illustration, Doncaster Metropolitan Borough Council has published a detailed narrative that highlights the cases of particularly successful female employees in the organization. It also conducted a “deep dive” audit of the workforce demographics. By calculating a proportional pay gap, taking account of the workforce composition, the council was able to show that across all grades there is no significant gender pay gap (overall pay gap was 0.44%). Contrast this with the headline average pay gap figure of 15.7% reported as part of the mandatory statistics. Likewise, TSB was able to use the narrative to explain that its 31% pay gap is a direct result of the makeup of its workforce, which has a higher percentage of men in senior roles. The narrative notes that if senior management were split 50/50, the pay gap would be reduced to 1%. Secondly, because 95% of the senior managers who choose to work reduced hours are women, their bonus pay is prorated, which affects the mean bonus gap. TSB then goes further by setting out the various gender equality initiatives it promotes.

In addition, it is important to view an employer’s gender pay statistics in the context of each sector. For example, within the financial services sector, the gender pay gap is estimated to be 39.5%, which is significantly higher than the national average of 18%. A financial services employer with a gender pay gap in the region of 20% is therefore doing relatively well in comparison to the rest of the sector, so this would be a fact that the employer could highlight.

Employers will ultimately have to decide whether they will take a PR and recruitment–focused approach or a strict legal risk approach. Employers opting for the former may produce a more detailed narrative, drilling down into the statistics to find the positive points worth sharing. For global entities, their past experience of reporting in other countries will also inform their strategy.

What Should Employers Be Doing Now?

With less than six months to go, employers who have not yet reported should begin prioritizing their gender pay reporting obligations. While those with high gender pay gaps may fear the reputational risk involved in disclosing those figures, it is important to keep in mind that the existence of a pay gap does not of itself prove unlawful pay discrimination. Employers should consider the use of a narrative alongside the figures as it may be useful in explaining issues that give rise to the gender pay gap. The narrative can also be an opportunity to promote the company’s positive initiatives such as inclusive recruitment policies, training for hiring managers, flexible working schemes, diversity steering groups, and mentoring initiatives.

While compiling gender pay statistics, it may be prudent to review pay policies with a view toward striving to achieve pay equality and increasing workplace transparency around pay structures, including using performance review processes to be clear to employees about the basis for pay awards.

As the April 4, 2018 deadline looms, with several thousand companies still to report, it is clear that there remains much to be done, both in ensuring compliance with the Regulations and in achieving the long-term goal of pay equality in the workplace. However, the conversation has started and many companies are already reporting significantly higher levels of engagement on the issue within senior management and the C-suite. This is an important and positive step in the right direction.


DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Morgan Lewis | Attorney Advertising

Written by:

Morgan Lewis

Morgan Lewis on:

Readers' Choice 2017
Reporters on Deadline

"My best business intelligence, in one easy email…"

Your first step to building a free, personalized, morning email brief covering pertinent authors and topics on JD Supra:
Sign up using*

Already signed up? Log in here

*By using the service, you signify your acceptance of JD Supra's Privacy Policy.
Custom Email Digest
Privacy Policy (Updated: October 8, 2015):

JD Supra provides users with access to its legal industry publishing services (the "Service") through its website (the "Website") as well as through other sources. Our policies with regard to data collection and use of personal information of users of the Service, regardless of the manner in which users access the Service, and visitors to the Website are set forth in this statement ("Policy"). By using the Service, you signify your acceptance of this Policy.

Information Collection and Use by JD Supra

JD Supra collects users' names, companies, titles, e-mail address and industry. JD Supra also tracks the pages that users visit, logs IP addresses and aggregates non-personally identifiable user data and browser type. This data is gathered using cookies and other technologies.

The information and data collected is used to authenticate users and to send notifications relating to the Service, including email alerts to which users have subscribed; to manage the Service and Website, to improve the Service and to customize the user's experience. This information is also provided to the authors of the content to give them insight into their readership and help them to improve their content, so that it is most useful for our users.

JD Supra does not sell, rent or otherwise provide your details to third parties, other than to the authors of the content on JD Supra.

If you prefer not to enable cookies, you may change your browser settings to disable cookies; however, please note that rejecting cookies while visiting the Website may result in certain parts of the Website not operating correctly or as efficiently as if cookies were allowed.

Email Choice/Opt-out

Users who opt in to receive emails may choose to no longer receive e-mail updates and newsletters by selecting the "opt-out of future email" option in the email they receive from JD Supra or in their JD Supra account management screen.


JD Supra takes reasonable precautions to insure that user information is kept private. We restrict access to user information to those individuals who reasonably need access to perform their job functions, such as our third party email service, customer service personnel and technical staff. However, please note that no method of transmitting or storing data is completely secure and we cannot guarantee the security of user information. Unauthorized entry or use, hardware or software failure, and other factors may compromise the security of user information at any time.

If you have reason to believe that your interaction with us is no longer secure, you must immediately notify us of the problem by contacting us at In the unlikely event that we believe that the security of your user information in our possession or control may have been compromised, we may seek to notify you of that development and, if so, will endeavor to do so as promptly as practicable under the circumstances.

Sharing and Disclosure of Information JD Supra Collects

Except as otherwise described in this privacy statement, JD Supra will not disclose personal information to any third party unless we believe that disclosure is necessary to: (1) comply with applicable laws; (2) respond to governmental inquiries or requests; (3) comply with valid legal process; (4) protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of JD Supra, users of the Service, Website visitors or the public; (5) permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain; and (6) enforce our Terms & Conditions of Use.

In the event there is a change in the corporate structure of JD Supra such as, but not limited to, merger, consolidation, sale, liquidation or transfer of substantial assets, JD Supra may, in its sole discretion, transfer, sell or assign information collected on and through the Service to one or more affiliated or unaffiliated third parties.

Links to Other Websites

This Website and the Service may contain links to other websites. The operator of such other websites may collect information about you, including through cookies or other technologies. If you are using the Service through the Website and link to another site, you will leave the Website and this Policy will not apply to your use of and activity on those other sites. We encourage you to read the legal notices posted on those sites, including their privacy policies. We shall have no responsibility or liability for your visitation to, and the data collection and use practices of, such other sites. This Policy applies solely to the information collected in connection with your use of this Website and does not apply to any practices conducted offline or in connection with any other websites.

Changes in Our Privacy Policy

We reserve the right to change this Policy at any time. Please refer to the date at the top of this page to determine when this Policy was last revised. Any changes to our privacy policy will become effective upon posting of the revised policy on the Website. By continuing to use the Service or Website following such changes, you will be deemed to have agreed to such changes. If you do not agree with the terms of this Policy, as it may be amended from time to time, in whole or part, please do not continue using the Service or the Website.

Contacting JD Supra

If you have any questions about this privacy statement, the practices of this site, your dealings with this Web site, or if you would like to change any of the information you have provided to us, please contact us at:

- hide
*With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name. Or, sign up using your email address.