Business are looking at their peers, their customers and their supply chains to see what they can discover at this time. One exciting area for consideration is attracting and retaining the best talent. Many businesses are anticipating restructuring or other fundamental changes in the next year. That can result in a pool of talent becoming available that businesses could not have dreamt of in pre-COVID-19 times. So…what is the best talent looking for in the current market? Are women looking for different things to men? Are different generations looking for different things? What about a desire for employees to be paid equally to those of the other gender for doing like work?
When looking at equal pay, there may be little difference in generations, as this year marks 50 years since the introduction of the Equal Pay Act. However, few businesses believe pay transparency would be easy for them, even now. Principally, the concern is the risk of litigation if they reveal skeletons in their closet. However, anecdotally, entrepreneurial and forward-looking businesses that have already effected such changes have reported positive outcomes. The secret appears to be to combine transparency with a real focus on setting objective performance criteria to measure performance. One for the thought bank…
If you are trying to attract and retain female talent, you need to consider the embarrassment factor. Just a month before the commencement of the job retention scheme, the Fawcett Society was reminding us that only 24% of people they surveyed reported that salaries were discussed openly in their workplace and 52% of women would be embarrassed to ask their male colleagues how much they earn.
Businesses should be careful not to delay in this area, given the government’s decision to suspend gender pay gap reporting obligations this year. That measure is truly relevant to the COVID-19 ”survival” phase (alleviating a pressure point for businesses). This will return to focus and, by that time, you may be behind the curve.
Eventually your hand may be revealed in any event. It may be better to use this as a selling point for your organisation by doing something now.
The Fawcett Society is backing a private members bill which aims to introduce a new ”right to know” what a comparator is paid and what their terms of employment or engagement are. The idea is that the current measures do not work without transparency. This is also billed to be a way to avoid the need for colleagues to have backdoor conversations in order to obtain the information they require.
The right would extend to workers. They would only need to suspect that their colleague (within the organisation) is a comparator for equal pay purposes to make a request. The employer would need to provide defined information within 20 days. The information that could be requested would potentially include information about the comparator’s salary, benefit, bonus, overtime, allowances in respect of shift working and standby time, bank holidays and time off in lieu, attendance pay and performance-related pay. There is also proposed to be a less specific catch-all of “any other terms related to equal pay”. The bill envisages that employees would be permitted access to a comparator’s Form P60 as well as job descriptions and job evaluation studies carried out by the employer.Employees would have the ability to make multiple requests in respect of different comparators.
There are penalties proposed for employers who do not comply.
There are also proposals including a tribunal ordering full costs and expenses if the individual goes on to make a successful disclosure application. There is also a suggestion that the tribunal may order that the material factor defence is not available to the extent that the employer has not provided information about particular terms. There is a proposal that any costs would be paid by the employer within 28 days. If the employer failed, it would be debarred against defending a subsequent claim.
In addition to the above, the bill also proposes a number of other measures including:
- extending transparency by extending gender pay gap reporting to companies with 100 employees or more;
- requiring employers to publish an action plan to tackle gender pay gaps;
- reforming remedies and time limits in respect of equal pay;
- providing a right to equal pay where a single source can rectify unequal pay (at present the European Union underpins this, but the Fawcett Society considers it to be at risk in the Brexit separation);
- revising the statutory statement of particulars (section 1 Employment Rights Act) to include equal pay;
- giving claimants back their lost pension rights and an injury to feelings award when they win a claim; and
- placing obligations on certain employers to publish information on pay between employees of different ethnic origins, as well as between male and female employees.
Private members bills do not always get the greatest traction and the bill is currently only at the second reading stage in the House of Lords. Therefore, it is at an early stage in its legislative journey. It is highly unlikely that it will be in a position to get immediate airtime given the need for immediate COVID-19-related measures. The question is whether there is an appetite for these changes once COVID-19 has settled. Assuming there is a desire for change, the delay gives businesses an opportunity to get ahead. Businesses can decide on their own terms the extent of any changes they want to make in this area. In a time when people feel a real sense of community, changes that bring unity may appear much more profound. Who does not want to be the organisation that talent looks to and says are ahead of the curve?
— to www.lexology.com