Government to consult on gender pay gap metrics as part of gender equality roadmap

The government will review gender pay gap reporting metrics, evaluate shared parental leave and consult on providing dedicated employment rights for carers as part of its work to tackle gender inequalities.

The Government Equalities Office (GEO) and member of Parliament Penny Mordaunt (pictured), the minister for women and equalities, published the Gender equality at every stage: a roadmap for change report on Wednesday 3 July 2019. This sets out eight key drivers of gender inequality and outlines the proactive steps that the government plans to take in order to address these. The actions detailed in the report aim to support both men and women in contributing to the country’s economy by balancing caring responsibilities with a rewarding career.

In a speech delivered on 3 July 2019, Mordaunt said: “We talk about the choices people make. These choices aren’t always ‘real’ choices, especially for women who are less well off. Taking time off work to care for family; going into a less well-paid job that provides more flexibility; spending for today’s needs and not saving for tomorrow’s, these can all seem like the only sensible options.”

The eight drivers of gender inequality identified by the GEO include gender stereotypes and the impact this has on social norms; that women tend to work in lower-paid sectors and jobs; that working-age benefits have not previously addressed the disadvantages that women and carers may face; the barriers women may face when re-entering the workforce after taking time out of the labour market to care for children; that women typically provide more informal or unpaid care and that women are more likely to experience financial instability in later life, for example at retirement.

To address these concerns, the government intends to review the gender pay gap reporting metrics to assess their effectiveness; the evidence gathered will then be used to update the reporting legislation. The consultation on any proposed changes will be conducted by 2021. In addition, the government will enhance the online gender pay gap reporting service to ensure that information is presented in a user-friendly way to increase transparency around policies and initiatives that support gender equality. A national campaign for employers, to empower them to understand how their staff can balance work and care while progressing in their career, will support these steps.

The report also details the government’s plans to further review the enforcement of equal pay legislation, to ensure effectiveness.

Research by the Workplace and Gender Equality research programme and the Gender and Behavioural Insights programme will continue to consider gender inequality issues, to inform an employers’ toolkit that will be published later this year.

To support those taking time out for childcare, the government plans to evaluate shared parental leave and pay by the end of 2019 to gauge its effectiveness. This work will complement the launch of a shared parental leave digital tool that will be launched this year to help parents-to-be better understand the leave options available to them. The government will further consult on improving the transparency of employers’ parental leave and pay policies, as well as support organisations in providing good-quality and well-advertised flexible-working options.

The report also sets out the government’s intentions to consult on the introduction of dedicated employment rights for carers, for example carers’ leave, as well as supporting employers in improving what they offer to this employee population in order to better balance work and care commitments. It will also set up a taskforce, including employers, to discuss steps to tackle workplace culture that allows pregnancy and maternity discrimination to continue.

In addition, the government will liaise with employers in sectors with the largest gender imbalances to share measures to overcome gender disparities in apprenticeships, as well as equalise men and women’s participation rates in workplace pension schemes.

In the report, Mordaunt said: “I am proud that we have already introduced shared parental leave, mandatory gender pay gap reporting and an ambitious strategy to tackle violence against women and girls.

“This next step builds on that good work, complementing our other strategies which seek to meet the future challenges of the UK labour market, boost productivity and build strong, integrated communities.”

Jeanette Makings, head of financial education at Close Brothers, added: “Progress is being made, but the stark gender imbalance in financial wellbeing is a reminder of the scale of the challenge that still faces female employees and their employers. More women in lower-paid roles [are] being paid less and therefore saving less, to the detriment of their financial wellbeing. But it is not the only underlying cause.

“The pressures and financial circumstances of female employees are often different to those of their male counterparts, so the level and focus of financial education on offer needs to reflect that. But the good news is that these issues are solvable. Once the key pinch points for financial wellbeing have been identified, employers should be better prepared to provide tailored strategies to improve women’s financial health and confidence.”