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08/05/2017

Gender Pay Gap Reporting – A Brief Guide for Schools

New gender pay gap reporting regulations are now in force which will impact on schools. 

From 31 March 2017 (and 6 April 2017 for private sector employers), there is a new obligation on employers with 250 or more employees to publish gender pay gap information.

The gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay.  Equal pay is the pay difference between men and women who carry out the same jobs, similar jobs or work of equal value.  In contrast, the gender pay gap shows the differences in the average pay between men and women across an organisation.

Does the school have 250 employees?

An employer must comply with the regulations if it has 250 or more employees at the “snapshot” date. For public sector employers, the “snapshot date” is 31 March, whereas for private and voluntary sector employers, the “snapshot date” is 5 April.

At first glance, schools may think that they will not be obliged to publish gender pay gap information because they don’t have 250 employees.  However, the definition of an ‘employee’ for these purposes is broader than what you may normally think of as an ‘employee’ as it includes any workers (including some self-employed people) where they are required to personally do the work.

As such, for schools, this should include invigilators, sport coaches and other groups of casual employees.  If in doubt as to whether an individual will be included in the calculation, you will need to review the contract under which they are employed, and take legal advice. In practice, only governing bodies of large maintained schools will be required to report their pay gap as will many multi-academy trusts and some large academies. 

What has to be calculated and published?

Schools and academies will need to report on the following data:

  • the difference in mean and median hourly pay between male and female full-pay employees;
  • the difference in mean and median bonus pay between male and female employees;
  • the proportion of male and female employees receiving a bonus payment; and
  • the proportion of male and female full-pay employees in each 4 pay quartiles.

Who has to publish the information?

The reporting obligations are less straightforward for schools given the variety of different types of schools and the distinction between public and private sector employers.  For maintained schools, the Governing Body is responsible for publishing its own gender pay gap information rather than the local education authority.  Academies will be responsible for reporting and publishing their own gender pay gap reports and the proprietor of the multi-academy trust will be responsible for reporting on all academies in that chain. Whilst all of the above schools are classed as public sector employers and have a “snapshot date” of 31 March; independent and private schools are different because they are classed as private employers and therefore, have a snapshot date of 5 April. The legal employer for these schools will be responsible for publishing such schools’ gender pay gap data.

When does the data have to be published?

The data has to be published within 12 months of the “snapshot date”. This means that, for public sector employers (i.e. maintained schools and academies), the first reports have to be published by 30 March 2018, and for private sector employers (i.e. private schools) the reports must be published by 4 April 2018.  

How do the gender pay gap obligations fit in with the Public Sector Equality Duty (“PSED”)

There are already existing requirements for specified public bodies including publishing annual information to demonstrate compliance under the PSED.  The gender pay gap obligations for public sector employers have been introduced alongside the PSED.  Organisations with over 150 employees may already be publishing gender pay gap data under the existing requirement to publish data on its employees.  However, from 31 March 2017, employers with over 250 employees must follow the methodology set out in the regulations and accompanying guidance, regardless of how this data may have been previously calculated.  Other employers can prepare the calculations using the same methodology on a voluntary basis.

What happens if schools fail to publish their data?

There are no penalties as such specified in the regulations.  However, non-compliance may amount to an “unlawful act” enabling the Equality and Human Rights Commission to enforce any failure to comply with the regulations. 

Schools should also be aware of the reputational damage which could result if they fail to publish their data as well as potential implications for recruitment.

Recommendations

The process of gathering and interpreting a school’s data will be a time-consuming and technical task. As such, we recommend that schools should engage with the regulations at an early stage to confirm whether they are obligated to publish their data, and ensure that they have the available resources to produce the necessary data.  

If your school or academy requires any further information or advice on the Gender Pay Gap Reporting obligations, then please feel free to contact Graham Irons on 01604 258 003 or graham.irons@howespercival.com

© Howes Percival LLP