• International Workplace
  • 15 August 2017

The pay gap: a need for race reporting too?

The introduction of gender pay gap reporting regulations has seen the BBC thrown into the spotlight since considerable gaps between male and female earnings were revealed.

Published in the BBC’s Annual Report and Accounts, the statistics revealed that while the highest paid male, DJ Chris Evans, is earning between £2.2m and £2.25m, the highest paid female, Claudia Winkleman, earned considerably less last year, at between £450,000 and £500,000.

On top of this, the BBC has also received criticism after it was found that only ten people on its highest paid list were from a minority ethnic background and they were at the lower end of the earnings scale.    

Countryfile host, Anita Rani, commented that the pay gap isn’t just about gender but also race and class, saying race needs to be treated equally, as well as gender.

Since the BBC published its results, celebrities have argued their salaries should be equal to their peers, regardless of gender, race, age and so on. For example, actor Hugh Quarshie, who has been on Holby City for 15 years, said he should earn the same as the BBC’s top earning actor, Derek Thompson.

It seems that organisations publishing their payroll data are asking for trouble, but it is a legal duty for large employers and one which government hopes will help employers identify and understand the gender pay gap.

Gavin Macgregor, Employment Lawyer at Loch Law, commented

“Effective since 6 April 2017, the Equality Act 2010 (Gender Pay Gap Information) Regulations 2017 will encourage businesses to consider steps they can take to further reduce any gap and inequality,”

The Regulations provide that employers with over 250 employees are required to collect data and publish their results on the employer's website and the Government’s website.

The payroll statistics must be calculated from a ‘snapshot’ of information taken on 5 April of each year and then published within 12 months of that date, meaning the first publication date for employers is no later than 4 April 2018. Data must be kept on the website for three years. 

Macgregor contiunes,

“There are currently no financial penalties for non-compliance but the Government may still ‘name and shame’ the worst offenders on its website, failure to comply will be unlawful under the Equality Act 2010 and fall within the existing enforcement powers of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), which include applying to courts to order compliance. Claimants may pursue equal pay claims in the Employment Tribunal as a result of non-compliance.”

The new duties have attracted a great deal of media attention, but it remains to be seen how effective the Regulations will be in tackling the gender pay gap. Should it be successful, perhaps in the future we will also see new duties introduced to highlight any pay gap on the basis of race, age or other minority groups.

More information on the gender pay gap is available here.