With the recent high profile resignation of female BBC reporter Carrie Gracie the introduction of gender pay gap reporting highlights the tender trap that many organisations can find themselves in. The Equalities Commission is now going to look into Ms Gracie’s claims that two international reporters doing the same job as her were paid more than 50% than her.
Gender pay gap reporting introduced by the government in April 2017 requires that organisations who employ more than 250 staff are required to publish the pay gaps between men and women by April 2018 on an ongoing basis. The BBC have argued that they undertook an audit and considered there wasn’t a problem. However at least 150 women employed by the BBC don’t agree and are silently backing Miss Gracie’s very public outcry. She is so incensed that she has resigned. An inability of an organisation to produce the figures will have the public speculating as to the reasons why. Those who do publish damning figures may face damage to reputation and an inability to recruit. Pay is such an emotive issue and everyone wants to know that they receive a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. If women do the same job as men or the job is of equal value they should be paid the same. A job evaluation process could highlight the gaps which will then need plugging.
Despite almost fifty years of sex discrimination legislation in the UK the gap between men and women’s pay still exists. Men are paid on average 10% more than women, women are employed in the lowest earning sectors in the UK and are given bonus’s at least 5% less than men. See more about this on the ACAS website http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=5768. It appears to still be a man’s world as they say.
Now the excitement of the Christmas and New Year festivities has faded it’s time to get down to business and look ahead to identify the HR trends for 2018.
One major trend is the increasing need to focus on data protection. In May 2018 there will be major shake up of data protection laws which have existed in the UK since 1984 designed to protect employees and consumers in how their personal information is held and managed by organisations. Organisations will need to undertake an audit of data protection procedures across departments to ensure personal information is handled in accordance with the new laws. An audit should methodically identify what data is held and why, who manages the data, what procedures are followed,and what needs to be altered to ensure compliance with the law. Subject access requests must now be handled within one month and without charging a fee. Employees and potential new employees must be informed as to the exact reasons why their personal data will be processed. Organisations need to draw up a privacy notice that should indicate what and how personal information will be managed. To be honest data protection isn’t the most exciting area of HR but unfortunately if companies don’t comply the consequences could be huge fines. To find out more there is a wealth of information on the Information Commission website https://ico.org.uk/
Following the success of Unison in the Supreme Court in July 2017 employment tribunal fees have been abolished. The fees were introduced in July 2013 and meant that if an employee wanted to take their employer to an employment tribunal for unfair dismissal they had to find £1200 which is a hefty sum if you have just lost your job. The Supreme Court decided that the fees were unfair and were a barrier to justice. Anyone who paid employment tribunal fees since 2013 is entitled to apply for a refund.
The statistics from 2013 – https://www.gov.uk/government/collections/tribunals-statistics – showed a dramatic reduction in the number of employment tribunal claims being lodged which was the main intention of the Conservative government. Since the abolition of the fees there has been a noticeable increase in the number of claims being lodged although at the moment they have not reached anywhere near the level in 2013 before the fee introduction. However, give it time. There remain a lot of unscrupulous employers out there who fail to treat their employees well. It now costs nothing to lodge a claim so during 2018 we could well see the trend in the number of claims rising.
The latest unemployment figures show the rate is 4.6% which means there is very little wriggle room for employers to find new staff. The skills shortage and therefore this trend in the UK will continue and may get worse. This is a phenomenon that has been around for quite a while in the UK with many industry sectors suffering and competing for staff. The skills shortage may get worse in some industry sectors with Brexit causing an impetus of skilled staff returning to their homes elsewhere in Europe.