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Gender Pay Gap Report 2020

About HSL

HSL has been providing customers with comfort through its high quality, handmade furniture for 53 years.  Over our lifetime, our group has grown and developed, but what has never changed are our passions for delivering comfort and enhancing lives. We are still a family-run business and we remain dedicated to providing a caring service and excellent value for money for our customers, and a supportive, inclusive and enjoyable working environment for our diverse workforce.

What Is Gender Pay Gap Reporting?

Since April 2018 all organisations with more than 250 employees have been required to report statistics reporting their gender pay gap. The gender pay gap represents the difference between male and female average (both mean and median) pay across the whole business.

This government-led initiative reflects a commitment to improving transparency of pay differentials between men and women and tackling issues of gender equality.

The information in this report relates to High Seat Limited – the HSL Group’s retail subsidiary – since this is the only group company with more than 250 employees. It reflects actual data measured on 5th April 2020 (the “Snapshot Date”), analysed into the following six data sets:

  1. The percentage difference in mean (average) hourly pay between male and female employees for the twelve months ending on the Snapshot Date (the “Relevant Pay Period”);
  2. The percentage difference in median (mid-point) hourly pay between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  3. The percentage difference in the mean bonus between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  4. The percentage difference in the median bonus between men and women during the Relevant Pay Period;
  5. The percentage of men and women respectively who received a bonus during the Relevant Pay Period; and
  6. The percentage of men and women in each hourly rate pay quartile, split evenly across the workforce, reported by lower, lower middle, upper middle, and upper bands.

We will continue to measure and publish our Gender Pay figures each year but, equally as important, we will continue to identify the further actions we can take to increase diversity and inclusivity across the business.  This will include seeking regular feedback from our colleagues.

 HSL’s Gender Pay Data
Gender Pay

We collected our gender pay gap data on 5th April 2020, at which date our workforce consisted of 275 women and 138 men.

In light of the coronavirus pandemic which fully emerged during 2020, gender pay gap reporting requirements for the year under review state that only employees who received full pay on the Snapshot Date should be included in the reported data. Due to the first government imposed lockdown in 2020, all of HSL’s retail stores, home consultation service and delivery operations closed on 23rd March 2020 – a situation which continued until late May. The majority of back-office operations were equally paused, and therefore by 5th April the business was running on a skeleton staff with 96% of colleagues furloughed.

HSL’s pay strategy during the pandemic was for no colleague to be paid less than the National Living Wage, and so a number of colleagues were topped up to 100% of normal pay whilst on furlough.

However, 203 colleagues (almost half of the workforce) were furloughed on reduced pay and therefore have been excluded from the data as required by the legislation. These colleagues who were excluded from the data typically included staff on higher rates of pay, including many members of the senior management team and the board who took voluntary pay reductions during this period.

As a consequence, we consider that our gender pay gap data, although painting a very positive picture including a zero median pay gap, do not accurately represent the underlying picture on staff pay for the year under review.

Although historically HSL’s gender pay gap data has reported a mean and median pay gap, the most representative previous pay gap data covering the year ending 5th April 2019 showed a narrowing of the reported gap.  Furthermore, the existence of a reported gender pay gap does not necessarily mean that there is unequal pay for equivalent roles and there are a number of reasons why organisations’ reports might show a gender pay gap.

We have a large proportion of female colleagues working within our stores and home visits operations as Comfort Specialists, often working on part time hours which gives a larger headcount in this area of the business. Furthermore, in line with other retailers, these roles also often attract lower rates of pay in comparison with other areas of the business. At the Snapshot Date, 47% of HSL’s workforce (194 colleagues) worked as Comfort Specialists in our retail channel; and of these 80% (156) were female.

Since the Snapshot Date, Comfort Specialist rates of pay, which had previously converged in many cases with the National Living Wage, were uplifted to a premium above the NLW, meaning they rose more rapidly than HSL’s general annual pay award.  In addition, a London weighting was applied to salaries of colleagues working in some regional stores.  These actions will add to our ongoing reduction in the reported Gender Pay Gap going forward.

In many organisations women are under-represented in senior roles where remuneration is higher. Historically, HSL had only a 20% representation of women at board level and the gender pay gap was largely concentrated in the upper pay quartile. In January 2020, the board of directors was expanded, increasing the representation of women at board level to 33%, which will go to reduce the pay and bonus gap going forwards.

HSL encourages flexible working across all levels and all roles, enabling colleagues to balance their career with their family and personal commitments. We believe this will have a positive impact on the gender pay gap by reducing the need for people to take career breaks when starting a family or when they have primary childcare responsibilities. Excluding our Retail colleagues, who already work on a part time model, 15 out of 53 (28%) of female colleagues now work flexibly.

94.5% of women and 89.1% of men were paid a bonus in the Relevant Pay Period.

The mean bonus gap was 38.7% (2019: 45.6%) and the median bonus gap was 10.5% (2019: 22.8%). In both cases the bonus gap is impacted by the basis of calculation, which uses the actual bonus paid, and does not adjust for the impact of part time working.  If account was taken of the impact of bonuses which are pro-rated for part time hours worked, the bonus gap would reduce.

Director Statement

We are proud of HSL’s passion for equality and diversity across the organisation.

The basis of Gender Pay Gap reporting can suggest a differential in pay between men and women, and although this is reflective of differences in the relative mix of men and woman at different levels of the organisation, this in itself remains an area of ongoing improvement for HSL, like all employers.

Since the period covered by this report, we have also taken steps to increase the pay of the lowest paid colleagues.

We will continue to focus on development opportunities across the business to allow all colleagues to fulfil their potential and progress development opportunities wherever available.

I confirm that the information within this report is accurate.


William Burrows, Chairman

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