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Retailers urged to prioritise gender pay reporting

Eligible retailers across the UK have been urged to begin gathering data about their gender pay gap as a priority, as the deadline for new reporting requirements looms.

Businesses that employ 250 or more people will be required to publish details of how much they pay men and women by 5 April. Phase Eight and Oliver Bonas are among those to have released the data ahead of the deadline.

Fionnuala Horrocks-Burns, policy adviser for employment and skills at the British Retail Consortium (BRC), said there needed to be “urgency in terms of getting data together and gaining an understanding [of it].”

Pulling data together has taken “longer than expected” for some businesses “because of how descriptive the regulations are around what data can be included and what can’t”, she explained.

“Our members are getting to the point where they’re ready, have their data and are working out when best to publish it,” she said. “In terms of statistics and data, most are there now.”

On Monday, Phase Eight chief executive Ben Barnett defended the company’s mean gender pay gap of 64.8%.

“For absolute clarity this does not mean that we pay our female staff 64.8% less than our male staff within the same role,” he said. “We are confident that men and women are paid equally for doing the equivalent job across our business.”

Hugo Boss has reported a mean gender pay gap of 7.2%, and Oliver Bonas 9.58%. The latter said its findings were “largely driven by the gender bias that exists within our team”.

“As a lifestyle retailer, we predominantly attract female applicants, resulting in our part-time employee population being 90.9% female,” it explained. “Our mean gender pay gap is, however, much lower than the 2016 national average.”

The Office for National Statistics found the average gender pay gap to be 18.4% in 2017.

Ingrid Waterfield, a director at KPMG’s People Advisory practice, warned that retailers have a “very short timeframe” in which to do anything that impacts their data for 2019.

“Organisations […] have only got three months to actually do anything that impacts on their pay, because the next data point for next year’s reporting is in early April.

“For those that have only thought about the reporting and not about addressing [the pay gap], there’s a very short time frame to impact on salaries to be ready for next year.”


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