Government to expose gender pay gulf in law

23 March, 2016

Leading UK law firms will soon have to publish the gender pay gap of their partners following a change to mandatory reporting requirements proposed by the government.

Regulations that take effect before April 2018 are expected to include partner pay in the gender pay gap calculations, which will have to be made by organisations that employ more than 250 people.

It was initially thought that partners in limited liability partnerships would be exempt from these rules, but a government clarification suggests this was an oversight.

Recent figures show that around 20 per cent of partners at the UK’s top 20 law firms are women.

The clarification comes in a Government Equalities Office (GEO) response to a request from Practical Law. However, it is not mentioned in the official consultation document, Mandatory Gender Pay Gap Reporting that was published by the GEO on 12 February.

The clarification “significantly widens the scope of the draft regulations as originally understood by many, and means that, for example, LLP members and some self-employed contractors are likely to be treated as ‘relevant employees’ for [reporting] purposes,” Practical Law said.

If the policy does expand the scope of the regulations then it may have very significant implications for firms that do not employ their staff in a separate services company.

In these cases, employees and partners will be added together to determine whether the 250 employee threshold is met, and all partners pay will need to be included in the published information.

While these regulations may only affect the UK’s largest firms, having a clearer understanding of pay within a firm can be very beneficial. At Watson Buckle we can help you manage your payroll and assess your current pay regime to make sure that it meets industry standards and your individual requirements as a firm. If you would like to know more about our range of services for the legal profession, please contact us.