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Coronavirus: UK companies can now escape reporting gender pay gaps

Lianna Brinded
Head of Yahoo Finance UK
Gender pay gap reporting deadline for the current financial year has been suspended. (Getty)

UK companies can now escape reporting on the gender pay gap after the Government Equalities Office (GEO) and the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said that it will suspend enforcement of the gender pay gap deadlines for the 2019/2020 reporting year due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government confirmed in a statement that there will be no expectation on employers to report their data during this time.

“We recognise that employers across the country are facing unprecedented uncertainty and pressure at this time,” said Liz Truss, minister for women & equalities, and EHRC chair, David Isaac in a joint statement.

Read more: Helena Morrissey: Many companies will have to 'go backwards to go forwards' to close the gender pay gap

“Because of this we feel it is only right to suspend enforcement of gender pay gap reporting this year.”

The announcement comes after the UK government ordered the closure of all non-essential stores, as well as playgrounds and libraries, and has imposed a range of drastic measures on public life, in a significant escalation of the government’s efforts to contain the coronavirus pandemic.

This month, the UK Treasury announced a financial package worth 15% of UK GDP, up from a package announced the prior week, which was worth 1% of GDP, and includes £330bn ($388bn) government-backed loans and guarantees to help firms survive the crisis was open for applications through leading financial firms.

Whitehall has also pledged to pay up to 80% of workers’ salaries to help mitigate job losses.

The latest data shows that UK economy has suffered a sharper slowdown than in the financial crisis in 2008, with experts warning the coronavirus could trigger the worst recession in modern history.

A monthly survey by IHS Markit and CIPS shows businesses suffered their steepest drop in activity in March since the index began in 1998.

What do we know about the gender pay gap already?

Every year, the World Economic Forum (WEF) releases its highly-anticipated Global Gender Report, which takes a granular, statistical, and in-depth look at how businesses and governments are doing in making the world more balanced for men and women.

It found that the global gender pay gap will take more than a lifetime to close — clocking in at 99.5 years. While improvements have been made over the last year, mainly due to the increase of female representation in politics, economic participation (salaries, participation, and leadership) for women is getting worse.

Read more: Gender pay gap hits UK's women in work ranking

In Britain, companies in the UK which have more than 250 employees are mandated to report their pay data split by gender. The government said that 26% of expected companies to report this data have filed their information to the authorities.

However, now the remainder will be under no obligation to do so. The EHRC would normally have the power to investigate employers that fail to report their gender pay gap data and could face an unlimited fine after court action.