One in four UK gender pay gap reports found to be non-compliant

Analysis undertaken by workforce data analytics specialists Staffmetrix, has shown that one in four organisations that have submitted gender pay gap reports for the 2018/19 reporting period failed to submit reports that conform to UK government guidelines.

Gender pay gap reporting was introduced in 2017 to improve levels of transparency on gender pay equality and gender balance in organisations. While the issue has attracted significant levels of interest from the general public and the media, organisations have attached varying degrees of importance to the reporting requirements.

In November 2017, the Financial Times identified a number of organisations that submitted ‘improbable data’, highlighting the point that not all organisations were taking the requirements seriously.

The latest research by Staffmetrix which looked at submissions between 1 April and 15 October 2018 identified three key issues that will impact the overall accuracy and validity of the gender pay gap data for the current reporting year. In some cases, submissions had more than one discrepancy.

Of the 322 submissions, 38% were submitted in April. While it is possible for some organisations to collate their data soon after the snapshot date, it suggests that a number of reports may be late 2017/18 submissions that have been incorrectly uploaded to the government website for the current year. It is also possible that some organisations have chosen to submit reports before all of their required data was available.

9% of organisations have submitted data with impossible outcomes. In the majority of cases, this occurs when there is a mismatch between the median gender pay gap data and the pay quartile data. In some cases, this could be due to quartile information being entered the wrong way around or the median pay gap should have been a positive number and not a negative one, or vice versa.

A further 1% of organisations submitted reports where their bonus gap was greater than 100%. If the calculation is performed correctly, this is impossible to achieve unless the average woman receives a negative bonus.

Other issues identified include private/voluntary sector submissions where either no link is provided to their written report, or the link provided does not lead to a report on the organisation’s website; identical reports for both years (although this could be a misunderstanding and when reports are due); changes being made to the data submitted last year and this year; and someone who is not a director or equivalent being named as the ‘Responsible person’. The analysis also discovered that 42% of reports that were submitted by someone who was not or a director or equivalent, contained discrepancies.

While there has been a slow start to the number of organisations reporting for 2018/19, a number of high profile employers have already published. These include Allen & Overy who were heavily criticised for not including partners last year, and Deloitte who are the first of the Big 4 to report.

In financial services, which was the sector with the highest bonus gap last year, reports this year have been submitted by Virgin Money, Monzo Bank, HSBC and Marks & Spencer Financial Services. Virgin Money has the highest median gender pay gap at 35%, a reduction of 3.4% from last year. Marks & Spencer Financial Services has the lowest median gender pay gap at 3%.

Commenting on the findings, Innes Miller, Director, Staffmetrix said that “Gender pay gap reporting will again attract high levels of interest between now and the 2019 reporting deadlines. To mitigate the risks associated with publishing improbable data, business leaders must ensure their data is accurate and communicate in their accompanying reports how they plan to address gender imbalance in their organisations”.