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Gender pay gap reporting may be made compulsory

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COMPULSORY gender pay gap reporting will be introduced if not enough businesses volunteer the data this year, the Chief Minister has warned.

Chief Minister John Le Fondré

And, according to a member of his top team, indications suggest that once the deadline passes such legislation will be needed.

Three months after publishing its own report revealing that the average difference in pay between men and women in the public sector stood at 18.3%, the government is ramping up the pressure on other organisations to follow suit.

Meanwhile, the government itself has committed to make its gender pay gap report an annual piece of work.

Speaking at a Scrutiny hearing of the Gender Pay Gap Review Panel yesterday, Chief Minister John Le Fondré and his Assistant Chief Minister Richard Buchanan said that if 75% of Jersey businesses employing more than 50 people had not published gender gap data by the end of the year then the government would bring in legislation in 2021 making it a requirement.

The gender pay gap shows the difference between the average earnings – worked out by looking at hourly pay – of men and women. It is not a measure of the difference in pay between men and women doing the same job.

To date only a handful of local companies are thought to have published such data. However, the Chief Minister said he knew that conversations were currently being had by the Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors – which he pointed out are both currently led by women – on the matter.

‘We are saying we want to give employers 12 months to adapt to start producing reports and if they don’t then we will take action,’ Senator Le Fondré told the panel.

Mr Buchanan added: ‘We hope that by setting the example will act as a spur to other employers. I suspect that in a year’s time we will be looking at bringing in legislation.’

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A number of members of the panel then questioned if no legislation was introduced then what would encourage the remaining businesses – potentially up to 25% – to report their data.

‘We would consider legislation unnecessary then,’ said Mr Buchanan, who added that they would be talking about a small number of companies which may not be declaring but which could be encouraged to do so by the actions of others who had.

The Chief Minister added: ‘With all of these types of things it is about taking people with you rather than just saying do it.’ He said there was currently a large amount of legislation directly affecting businesses and the cost of doing business.

Since 2017 companies in the UK employing more than 250 people have been required by law to publish their gender pay gap data. There have been some discussions about lowering the threshold there to 50.

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Mr Buchanan told the panel that 50 was considered an appropriate threshold for Jersey and the 75% target before legislation is considered was necessary in order to provide meaningful data.

Meanwhile, Senator Le Fondré confirmed to the panel that the Government of Jersey would now be publishing its gender pay gap data annually.

Last year the Scrutiny panel made 13 recommendations to help the government to tackle the issue.

The panel’s 13 recommendations for the government include a publicity campaign to increase awareness of the gender pay gap, mentoring by female role models, unconscious bias training and monitoring for staff, particularly teachers, diversity training, and identifying the barriers to women and putting systems in place to overcome them.

Lucy Stephenson

By Lucy Stephenson
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