Gender pay gap reporting - what you need to know for 2021

Published on: 05/02/2021


Since 2017, employers with 250 or more employees have had a duty to publish their gender pay gap data. The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women across an organisation. The reporting duty was suspended in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However the Government have now confirmed that this suspension in reporting is ceasing and therefore, relevant organisations will need to prepare for the 2021 gender pay gap reporting deadlines 

The public sector reporting deadline is 30th March 2021, for which public sector organisations will need to publish a report containing a snapshot of their gender pay gap data on 31st March 2020. 

The private sector reporting deadline is the 4th April 2021 and the respective applicable snapshot date is the 5th April 2020 

Production of the reports could be somewhat more complicated for employers this year, given a number of employees may have been furloughed at the snapshot date. The Government has produced guidance on the issue, which confirms: 

  • Employees furloughed on the snapshot date must be included for the purposes of calculating whether the business meets the 250-employee threshold which requires it to publish a report 
  • Employees furloughed on the snapshot date must be included for the purposes of any calculations related to bonus pay 
  • Employees not in receipt of full pay on the snapshot date should not be included in the report for the purposes of hourly pay calculations. Therefore, unless furloughed employees were in receipt of a pay top-up, bringing them up to 100% of pay, they should not be included. 

Clearly the results of many organisations’ 2020/21 gender pay gap reports will be significantly skewed compared to other reporting years, making it difficult for any meaningful analysis to be made. For example, some organisations who decided to furlough the lower paid, non-managerial members of their workforce may reveal much smaller or negative gender pay gaps this year, if the majority of these furloughed employees were female.  

Although not mandatory, organisations whose gender pay gaps are detrimentally skewed in 2020/21 would be encouraged to produce a supporting narrative explaining the skew. The narrative could even put forward the gap that would have been produced had employees not been on furlough at the snapshot date.  

However, it will be difficult, even with supporting narratives to capture the full picture, or come to any meaningful conclusion; there were simply too many variables which came into play in 2020. Employees who were furloughed on the snapshot date may have returned to work on full pay shortly afterwards for example, or alternatively may have been made redundant. Circumstances over the year changed significantly, making it very difficult for an observer to pin anything on any organisation in respect of their 2020/21 gender pay gaps.  

The restarting of the gender pay gap reporting requirement is simply about organisations ‘getting back on the horse’. Even though this year’s results will bear little meaning, the practice in itself is very important and will be vital in the next couple of years as the dust settles and we begin to understand the full impact the pandemic has had on gender equality. 

Since we have published this article, the Government have announced that there will be a 6-month grace period for those organisations that do not meet the 2020/2021 Gender Pay Gap reporting deadlines (4th April 2021 for private sector employers). This means for private sector employers for example, no enforcement action will be taken by The Equality and Human Rights Commission until 4th October 2021.

Employers have nevertheless been encouraged to meet the original Spring deadlines where possible. For those employers who were struggling to compile their reports amidst a number of other demands already placed on them by the pandemic however, this will no doubt be a welcome period of grace.

If your organisation needs any assistance putting together or filing its 2020/21 gender pay gap report, please do not hesitate to contact the Clarkslegal Employment Team who would be happy to help.


This information is for guidance purposes only and should not be regarded as a substitute for taking professional and legal advice. Please refer to the full General Notices on our website.