For 2020, just 2,440 businesses reported their data, compared with 6,150 in 2019 and 10,833 in 2018.
CIPD senior reward and performance adviser Charles Cotton said the sharp drop is cause for concern and raises questions about businesses simply paying lip service to gender equality.
Cotton said: “While this is not that surprising given enforcement action has been delayed by six months, it does raise questions about the commitment of some employers to tackling their gender pay gap.
“Reporting is an integral part of an organisation’s fairness strategy and without it, employers lack a valuable tool to assess the fairness of how they recruit, manage, develop and reward their people.”
Wanda Wyporska, executive director of economic and social inequality campaign charity The Equality Trust, also said the decline in numbers reflects a lack of commitment.
Wyporksa told HR magazine: "The suspension of reporting signalled that the gender pay and bonus gaps were not important. For all the corporate celebrations of International Women's Day last month, it seems that companies are far more interested in the optics than the impact on women's pockets.”
The median gender pay gap was the same in 2020 as it was in 2018 at 12.8%, or for every £1 earned by the median male worker, the median female worker earned 87 pence.
Little change was to be expected, yet Cotton added that without taking action there is now a risk of organisations widening their gender pay gap.
A 2019 report from The Equality Trust on the FTSE 100 found that at the current rate of progress it would take over 200 years to eradicate the pay gap.
In 2020, both the UN and the World Economic Forum (WEF) warned that the effect of the pandemic on women’s careers could hold equal pay progress back by half a century. The UK’s global ranking for gender equality also fell in 2019.
Though businesses have the option to delay pay reporting until October this year the CIPD has urged employers to publish figures sooner rather than later.
“With the pandemic disproportionately affecting women financially, it’s even more of an imperative for employers to ensure gender pay reporting returns to the top of their agenda,” Cotton said.