As the deadline for reporting gender pay gap information for organisations with 250 or more employees rapidly approaches, we are starting to see evidence of the potential damage to employee morale and engagement that a gender pay gap can have.

The Guardian published an article this week entitled, “I’m beyond anger’ – why the great pay gap reveal is an explosive moment for gender equality” in which women gave their thoughts on the gender pay gap data published for their own employers. 

What is apparent from the article (and is something that we have been highlighting to employers for some time) is that a gender pay gap can cause serious issues for employers (notwithstanding any equal pay and / or sex discrimination issues that may arise). 

For example, the BBC has faced negative publicity and arguably reputational damage in the wake of the publication of its gender pay information and details of presenters’ salaries and Carrie Gracie’s subsequent resignation. 

Even if an organisation doesn’t receive the same level of “external” adverse PR as the BBC arguably has, it may still face issues with its own staff which could impact on productivity, employee engagement and retention, absenteeism and its 'employer of choice' status. 

The gender pay gap data also has potential to influence recruits and stakeholders. 

But what about employees of organisations with less than 250 employees?  

The publicity around the Gender Pay Gap Regulations has been significant and, as awareness continues to rise, it may soon be difficult to justify the 250 employee threshold; as we have been predicting for some time (see North West Business Insider’s (June 2016 edition) “the regulations will eventually be extended to include businesses of all sizes”  suggesting that “smaller businesses may want to report their figures already.” 

As we commented in that article, “from a PR point of view, if you are analysing the information it shows transparency to current staff, potential recruits and your stakeholders, which will help with employee retention and help you become an employer of choice.” 

It’s also an issue to which Maria Miller MP, the chair of the Women and Equalities Committee, appears to be alive given a recent Financial Times article, “Maria Miller attacks ‘toothless’ equality regulator on gender pay”, in which she is reported as having “suggested that employers with fewer than 250 staff should be required to report their gender pay gap.” citing that “Only 40 per cent of the working population is employed by companies with more than 250 staff.”

If you are caught by the requirement to publish gender pay gap information this year and would like advice on your obligations or are concerned about the potential impact on your staff or you a smaller business considering a gender pay gap audit please don’t hesitate to contact a member of the Brabners Employment team.