One in 10 organisations required to publish their gender pay gap by April 2018 say they will not meet this deadline, according to a survey by audit, tax and consulting firm RSM.
The survey found that while 77% of businesses said they had already published or were on track to publish their gender pay gap on time, more than 90% of affected companies have yet to comply with the new rules.
According to the latest data, just 502 companies out of an estimated 9,000 affected firms have published their figures so far.
Senior HR consultant at RSM, Kerri Constable said that disclosure rates are likely to ramp up before the April deadline, but that data processing difficulties are a key factor holding firms back.
“These figures reinforce our concerns that there are many companies struggling to complete their gender pay gap calculations; partly as a result of difficulties with manipulating the data from payroll systems,” she said. “We also suspect that many firms are playing a wait and see game so they can see how competitors are presenting their findings.”
Constable said there was heartening evidence that organisations have faith that gender pay reporting will eventually help solve pay inequality, but pointed to reservations among managers around speed of change. “Encouragingly, our latest survey of middle-market businesses found that 78% said that the reporting obligations would help reduce the size of the gender pay gap,” she reported. “However, they didn’t think this would happen soon – on average respondents said it would take 32 years.”
The RSM survey follows recent warnings from legal experts that threats by the UK government to sanction companies that do not reveal their gender pay gaps by April have no legal standing.
The Equalities and Human Rights Commission last month warned that employers who fail to meet their obligations could face “unlimited” fines and convictions. But experts have stated that a change in the law is required before employers can be punished for not reporting their gender pay gap data, or for giving inaccurate information.
Employment specialist at law firm Blake Morgan, Ruth Christy told the FT that neither the gender pay gap regulations nor the EHRC’s powers under current equality legislation give the regulator the power to enforce sanctions.
“The government had the opportunity to introduce civil or criminal sanctions into the regulations but it chose not to do so, therefore it is hard to see how an employer’s failure to publish the data would be a breach of the Equality Act 2010,” Christy told the FT.
“No change to the law is mentioned in the draft papers and indeed the EHRC has previously said it did not think it had the power to enforce gender pay reporting under the regulations when they were originally drafted.”
Charities and private companies with 250 or more employees must publish their gender pay gap calculations by 4 April. For public sector bodies the deadline is 30 March.