Last reviewed 24 February 2021

Enforcement action against employers failing to report their gender pay gap was suspended for the reporting year 2019/20 in March last year at the start of pandemic.

Now the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has announced that it will re-start on 5 October 2021.

The changes for the 2020/21 reporting year will give those required to meet the regulations an additional six months to report their data before legal action begins, the Commission explained.

Employers are encouraged to submit their data for 2020/2021 before October where possible.

Chairwoman Baroness Kishwer Falkner said: “We know businesses are still facing challenging times. Starting our legal process in October strikes the right balance between supporting businesses and enforcing these important regulations”.

However, she went on, taking action to reduce the gender pay gap must continue.

Reporting provides an opportunity for employers to demonstrate their commitment to gender equality, which will be more important than ever as the effects of the pandemic continue, Baroness Falkner pointed out.

The Gender Pay Gap Regulations require employers with 250 or more members of staff to report their gender pay gap.

They state that public sector bodies covered by the rules must report their data by 30 March. Private sector employers across Great Britain are required to report by 4 April.

The EHRC has the power to investigate employers that fail to report their gender pay gap data which could lead to unlimited fines after court action.

CBI Chief UK Policy Director, Matthew Fell, said: “Businesses will welcome certainty about what they are expected to disclose and by when. Reinstating enforcement from October 2021 will ensure that all firms within scope publish their data, while giving those who have been closed for most of the last year more time to do so”.

See https://www.gov.uk/guidance/the-gender-pay-gap-information-employers-must-report#history for reporting guidance from the Government Equalities Office (GEO).

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

Ever since the Government cancelled the publication of gender pay gap reports last year, employers have been looking to this year and whether a similar provision would be put in place, especially after yesterday’s confirmation that we will still be under coronavirus restrictions this April in England.

This latest news provides more clarity on the issue; while the Government does still intend for reporting to return this year for eligible employers, it seems that they are permitting employers to delay their publication for six months from the usual date of 4 April — for private sector companies.

Nevertheless, this will likely be seen as good news for employers who are still struggling due to the pandemic, giving them a more extended period of time to gather their appropriate data and get it published.

That said, one clear thing is that this does not remove the obligation on eligible employers to produce a report, and indeed they will still face sanctions if they fail to meet the new deadline specified here.

To this end, many employers may still want to stick to the usual deadline of 4 April as much as possible, particularly if they have established a strong system for publishing their report to this date, and indeed companies did still publish their reports last year despite not being required to.