The Government Suspended Gender Pay Gap Reporting in 2020, Sign Our Petition So They Can’t Do It Again

With gender pay gap reporting at risk of being scrapped for a second year, we’re relaunching our law-changing Mind The Pay Gap campaign. Because only through transparency will we get equality, writes Grazia contributing editor and campaigner Anna Whitehouse.


by Anna Whitehouse aka Mother Pukka |
Updated on

There's a school WhatsApp group I’m in with one man and 37 women. Chat centres on balls being dropped, guilt weighing down and jobs being lost – along with intense googling of ‘what’s a compound pronoun?’ The truth is, it’s predominantly women shouldering the unpaid labour of home-schooling and childcare and, in turn, being forced to log off from careers they’ve fought hard for.

Mothers were 47% more likely to have lost their jobs or quit in lockdown compared to fathers, according to The Institute for Fiscal Studies; women’s job losses due to Covid-19 are 1.8 times greater than men’s, according to a recent McKinsey report.

For all the International Women’s Days, the weight of inequality is still firmly on female shoulders. This isn’t a man-bashing exercise, but when you look at whose job is deemed ‘more important’, financially it’s often a man’s, thanks to the gender pay gap – which was 15.5% nationally last year.*

And yet, Minister for Women and Equalities Liz Truss and the Equality and Human Right Commission (EHRC) scrapped gender pay gap reporting for 2020, because businesses faced ‘unprecedented uncertainty and pressure’. And whether or not to suspend it for 2021 is ‘under review’, say the Government.

It’s predominantly women shouldering the unpaid labour of home-schooling and childcare and, in turn, being forced to log off from careers they’ve fought hard for.

But never has there been a greater need for transparency. Thanks to gutsy lobbying and a powerful coalition, Grazia’s Mind The Pay Gap campaign in 2015 helped change the law around reporting. We called for companies that employ more than 250 people to publish anonymised details of their male and female staff ’s pay. Finally, we could see what our male colleagues were earning, encouraging employers to address the pay gaps within their businesses.

Now, we’re fighting to make sure this continues to be enforced. That’s why we are launching a petition with the Trades Union Congress (TUC), calling on the Government to reinstate the enforcement of gender pay gap reporting by large companies.

For all the platitudes from Westminster about how well mums are doing during this pandemic, reporting must continue if we have any hope of wading through this quagmire. Grazia might have helped change the law, but the fight clearly isn’t over.

‘Businesses have to report on a wide range of regulations, but gender pay gap reporting was the only one suspended last year,’ says Sian Elliott, women’s equality lead at the TUC. ‘This sent a message to employers that equality is a nice-to-have but not essential, when the opposite is true. Now is the time to tell Government we are watching. We will not stand by while they let employers off the hook and allow women to pay the price for this crisis,’ she adds.

A worrying 80% of managers didn’t take steps in 2020 to ensure redundancies did not fall disproportionately on women, the Chartered Management Institute found. Sure, companies are badly hit right now, but so are women and minorities – we’re the ones paying the highest price for Covid. We know from SARS and Ebola that inequality grows at a terrifying rate during health emergencies. Because who sets up WhatsApp groups to ensure everyone has everything they need? Who nurses Covid patients when out of hospital? Who home- schools and juggles part-time work? Women are carrying the weight of this crisis.

In response, a Government spokesperson said, ‘The decision to suspend enforcement action in 2020 was taken to alleviate pressure on businesses during the pandemic, and we are keeping the situation under review ahead of this year’s deadline. Separately, the ONS continues to collect data on the gender pay gap, which fell to a record low last year, and we encourage all employers to take action to ensure that everyone has equal opportunities.’

So please, sign our petition now and raise your voice to make change happen.

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