Gender pay reporting in the health sector

 The Government has now published its plans for extending mandatory gender pay reporting to larger employers in the public sector, from April 2017. Jog Hundle from Mills and Reeve explores the implications for healthcare organisations.

 
Overview
Last month’s consultation document confirms – as widely predicted – that the Government will be amending the Specific Duties Regulations, made under the Equality Act 2010, to extend compulsory gender pay reporting to public sector bodies with at least 250 employees. 
 
These new proposals will apply to a wide range of public and quasi-public sector bodies in England and some public authorities operating across Great Britain in relation to non-devolved  functions.  In the health sector in England, organisations which will be subject to these new requirements include NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts, CCGs and special health authorities (provided, of course, that they have 250 employees or more).
 
What must be published and how?
The proposed amendments to the Specific Duties Regulations will impose much the same obligations as those already planned for the private sector (see the Government’s  response to consultation for more information).
 
Public sector employers caught by these new requirements will need to publish the following data each year:
·         The gender difference in mean and median hourly pay for all employees as at 5 April;
·         The gender difference in mean and median bonus pay during the year to 5 April; 
·         The proportion of male and female employees who received bonus pay during that period; and
·         The numbers of male and female employees in quartile pay bands.
 
The regulations will include detailed information about how these calculations are to be performed.  Broadly speaking the hourly rate of pay is taken for all employees for the pay period covering 5 April.  For these purposes pay will be the gross hourly basic pay – i.e. excluding overtime but including bonus pay and shift premiums.  There are also likely to be detailed rules about how bonus pay is to be calculated.
 
The regulations will also clarify that for these purposes employees will include non-employee workers who are entitled to protection under the Equality Act.  Any agency workers will not need to be included, assuming they are employed by the employment agency supplying their services.
 
The data must be published on a website that is accessible to the public and must be retained online for three years.  It can be accompanied by explanatory information if desired.
 
Relationship with existing equality duties
The Specific Duty Regulations already require the publication of some fairly limited information about equality objectives, as well as, for bodies with at least 150 employees, equality data about its employees.  These requirements will remain in place, but amendments will be made to align the existing publication deadlines with those that will apply to gender pay data.
 
Timetable
In terms of timing there are no concrete commitments in this latest consultation paper.  But it seems that we can expect both sets of regulations to be laid before Parliament by the end of this year, and come into force early in 2017 to allow employers finalise their plans for the first data ‘snapshot’ in April 2017.  That means that employers will have until 4 April 2018 to publish the first set of data.
 
Action points
Health organisations that will be affected by these new proposals need to start planning now.  At the very least they need to make sure that they have the capability to capture the data in time for 5 April 2017.  Such preparation normally involves the co-ordination of a range of disciplines within the organisation with any external payroll provider, as well as some reflection on what impact the data is likely to have on existing equality objectives.