Thanks to sophisticated payroll software, it is relatively easy for organisations to collect and publish the pay data required for gender pay gap reporting. However, what you do with the figures afterwards may require much more skill from people professionals.

Although not compulsory, it’s important to create a narrative, putting the figures into context for your customers, your employees and other stakeholders, and set out the action you plan to take to address the gap. Any gender pay gap is likely to reflect a combination of internal and external factors (on the one hand, say, the extent of managerial discretion in setting starting salaries and, on the other, the availability of childcare provision locally) that you need to explore. 

A gender pay gap could also reflect how the gap is calculated. There are organisations where more women than men have opted to pay their pension contributions under salary-sacrifice arrangements, and this has widened the pay gap figures.

This guide provides a summary of the Regulations, which organisations they apply to, and what happens if you don’t report your gender pay gap figures. It explains what the gender pay gap is, what causes it, why it needs to be tackled, and why gender pay gap reporting has been introduced. It shows you how to calculate your gender pay gap and, equally importantly, how to explain your gender pay gap figures to your employees and the wider world. It concludes with suggestions for closing the gap.

The guide is backed up by an explanation of the terminology used. The 
Regulations have their own terminology and, if you’re new to gender pay gap reporting, you might find it useful to have a quick look at these explanations before you begin, as some of the definitions may differ from those you are used to working with. 

There has been a government consultation since gender pay gap reporting was introduced, looking at mandatory reporting of ethnicity pay data and, although there is not a legal requirement, some organisations are already reporting. We strongly encourage you to also report on ethnicity pay gaps. For more information, see the CIPD guide on Ethnicity Pay Reporting.

Gender pay gap regulations were suspended in the reporting period 2019/20 in response to the coronavirus crisis, and delayed for six months for the reporting period 2020/21. However, from the reporting period 2020/21 onwards there have been no suspensions or delays.

Remember that the legal information set out here is for guidance only. If you are in any doubt, or are involved in, or expecting to be involved in, legal proceedings, you should seek professional legal advice from a solicitor specialising in equality law. 


What is the gender pay gap?

The Regulations

Creating your dataset

Understanding national statistics

Who are your full-pay relevant employees?

How to calculate hourly pay

The measures

Closing your gender pay gap

What happens if you don’t report?

How to communicate your gender pay gap

An explanation of terms used in the Regulations

This guide was written for the CIPD by Sheila Wild, founder of, reviewed by Duncan Brown, and updated by the CIPD.

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