Gender pay gap reporting: overview

Employers with 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap

Mandatory gender pay gap reporting

From 2017, any organisation that has 250 or more employees must publish and report specific figures about their gender pay gap.

The gender pay gap is the difference between the average earnings of men and women, expressed relative to men’s earnings. For example, ‘women earn 15% less than men per hour’.

Employers must both:

Penalties for failing to report

Employers that fail to report on time or report inaccurate data will be in breach of the regulations and risk facing legal action from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), leading to court orders and fines.

Further details of the EHRC enforcement strategy can be found here.

If your organisation has fewer than 250 employees, it can publish and report voluntarily but is not obliged to do so. Choosing to report your gender pay gap information voluntarily can send a powerful message about your organisation’s commitment to transparency and equality in the workplace.

When you must publish and report

The figures must be calculated using a specific reference date - this is called the ‘snapshot date’. The snapshot date each year is:

  • 31 March for public sector organisations
  • 5 April for businesses and charities

Organisations must publish within a year of the snapshot date. Businesses and charities must publish by 4 April each year. Public sector organisations must publish by 30 March each year. Organisations can publish their data at any time before the deadline.

‘Relevant employer’

Your organisation will be a ‘relevant employer’ and must publish and report if it has 250 or more employees who are based in England, Scotland or Wales on the relevant snapshot date. If your organisation is based overseas, you will be required to report gender pay gap data if your organisation employed 250 or more people subject to English, Scottish or Welsh employment law on the snapshot date.

The legal entity that is the ‘relevant employer’ (for example, the private limited company or public sector organisation) must register with and report to the Gender pay gap reporting service.

If your organisation is a ‘relevant employer’ and runs multiple payrolls (for example payrolls for different departments or business functions), you must merge relevant data from all your payrolls and report one set of figures for your organisation.

Private sector group structures

Private sector organisations that are part of a group must report individually if they are ‘relevant employers’.

Additionally, corporate groups can voluntarily report combined figures for the entire group.

Public sector organisations - who must report and publish

Public sector organisations include government departments, the armed forces, local authorities, NHS bodies and most schools.

If your organisation is listed in Schedule 2 to the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017, you must publish and report your gender pay gap data following the public sector rules (using a snapshot date of 31 March). Your HR department should be able to tell you if this applies to you.

If you’re a public sector employer and not listed in Schedule 19 to the Equality Act 2010, you must publish and report – but follow the private and voluntary sector regulations. You must use a snapshot date of 5 April.

Government departments must publish and report gender pay gap data covering all of their employees - including their executive agencies (as these are the same legal entity). Executive agencies can also voluntarily report for their own organisations.

Arms-length bodies (such as statutory non-departmental bodies) must publish and report as they are separate legal entities from their sponsor department.

If you’re a school of any kind and your legal entity employs 250 or more people, you must report and publish. You won’t be included in your local education authority’s gender pay gap reporting.

For maintained schools in and out of federations, the governing body is responsible for publishing their own gender pay gap reports. Maintained schools may be foundation, community, voluntary, nursery or special schools.

For academies in and out of chains, and for free schools, the proprietor is responsible for reporting their gender pay gap data. Independent and private schools should follow the private sector gender pay reporting regulations (using 5 April as the snapshot date). The legal employer must report and publish their gender pay gap data.

If your organisation is a Scottish or Welsh public authority and you already follow gender pay gap reporting requirements in your country, you don’t need to publish or report under these rules.

Who counts as an ‘employee’

The definition of ‘employee’ for gender pay gap reporting includes:

  • people who have a contract of employment with your organisation
  • workers and agency workers (those with a contract to do work or provide services)
  • some self-employed people (where they must personally perform the work)

When to count agency workers and self-employed people in your organisation

If your organisation uses agency workers or service companies, they count as part of the headcount of the agency or service company that provides them - not your organisation.

You must include self-employed people in your organisation’s calculations if they must personally perform work for you and you have the data available, for example where a project initiation document exists or a schedule of fees is in place.

Part-time workers and job-sharing

You must count each part-time worker as one employee for gender pay gap reporting purposes.

If you use job-share arrangements, every employee within a job-share counts as one employee. So, if 2 people job-share, they count as 2 employees for gender pay gap reporting purposes.

When employees have more than one job with your organisation, you can either choose to count them according to how many employment contracts they have or as one employee. Your organisation can choose the most appropriate approach - but it will help the accuracy of your figures if you consistently apply what you decide.

Overseas workers and international jobs

As a general rule, you must count an employee based overseas if they have an employment contract subject to English, Scottish or Welsh law. If you are an overseas organisation that employs 250 or more people in England, Scotland or Wales, you are required to submit gender pay gap data.

Northern Ireland

If your organisation is based in Northern Ireland and employs 250 or more people in England, Scotland or Wales, you will need to report gender pay gap data.

Partners in partnerships

You don’t have to include partners in traditional partnerships and limited liability partnerships in your calculations. This is because partners take a share of the organisation’s profits, which is not directly comparable with employees’ pay. If your organisation wants to voluntarily include partners in your calculations, these figures can be published separately in your narrative or on your website.

Data you must publish and report

You must publish on your organisation’s public-facing website and report to government your organisation’s:

  • mean gender pay gap in hourly pay
  • median gender pay gap in hourly pay
  • mean bonus gender pay gap
  • median bonus gender pay gap
  • proportion of males and females receiving a bonus payment
  • proportion of males and females in each pay quartile

You’ll need to:

You must publish and report your organisation’s figures if you’re a ‘relevant employer’. The Equality and Human Rights Commission can enforce any failure to comply with the regulations.

Support to manage and improve your organisation’s gender pay gap

You can read about the actions employers can take to close the gender pay gap.

You can also get advice on managing your organisation’s gender pay gap from the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) website.

Acas offers:

  • practical guidance on identifying gender pay issues and improving them
  • training courses and events on calculating your organisation’s gender pay gap
  • tools and support to communicate with your employees about gender pay issues
Published 22 February 2017
Last updated 14 February 2019 + show all updates
  1. Added section on 'Penalties for failure to report' and updates to 'Relevant employer' section.

  2. Added link to new publication 'Closing the gender pay gap - actions for employers'

  3. Additional guidance added to include public sector organisations' responsibilities for gender pay gap reporting

  4. First published.