According to a Guardian analysis, one in four government department agencies have seen the gender pay gap widen. Figures suggest that it will take more than 37 years for the civil service to achieve pay equality between men and women.
Data has shown that in 2017, the average male civil servant is paid £28,280 and the average female employee paid £24,600, 13% less than their male counterpart, only 2% less than the difference in 2010.
The Cabinet Office stated that the gap was at a record low and that the government was committed to closing it in a generation. Irrespective of this, Labour commented that the fact such a gap exists in the civil service is ‘morally wrong’ with feminist campaigners raising the point that the public sector should be leading the way on the issue.
From 2008 to 2017 figures show that the gap has widened in 23 out of 97 Government departments and government bodies.
The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), showed to be the worst offender as on average the gender pay gap has risen by 31% since 2008.
The Attorney General’s Office, also small in organisational size, showed that the pay gap had risen by 18% with male employees pay averaging at £61,240 in comparison to their female counterparts averaging at £36,250.
The Cabinet Office that oversees civil service pay, also showed an increase to the pay gap of 2% since 2008.
Ministers have promised to take action nationally as it has been reported that in both public and private sectors the gap stands at 18% on average. All employers with more than 250 staff will be required to publically report their gender pay gap within the next year.
Labour spokesperson for women and equalities, Sarah Campion stated that it was “appalling that the government’s own departments harbour this level of pay and disparity between men and women. It is not only morally wrong, it makes no economic sense”.
Campion also claimed that Tory ministers had turned a blind eye allowing “discrimination to flourish on their watch”. Further commenting that whilst the Conservatives were happy to “talk the talk” on the gender pay gap, in reality they had been dragged into taking action on the inequality.
“It is a sobering thought that it could take another 37 years to achieve pay equality between men and women in the civil service. The law, however, is clear on this issue - differences in pay between men and women who carry out work of a similar kind are prohibited by the Equality Act. Although the raw figures appear stark, I do see some merit in the government’s position that “overall, the civil service gender pay gap has narrowed [since 2010], but in small organisations it is very sensitive to minor changes in staffing.”
"The Fawcett Society, which has been leading the way in campaigning for gender pay equality, has made a raft of good suggestions that could be adopted now to help close the gap. They are calling for the following meaningful reforms:-
- Advertise all jobs in their organisation as flexible, part-time or a job share unless there is a strong business case not to.
- Support women to progress to higher paid jobs, and tackle unconscious bias and use targets to measure progress.
- Become a living wage employer – over 60% of those earning less that the living wage are women.
“The government could:
- Implement meaningful penalties for employers who do not comply with gender pay gap reporting rules.
- Create targets for apprenticeships and aim for 50:50 recruitment. Apprenticeships are publically funded but at the moment the ones in the highest paid sectors remain dominated by men. There is a £2,000 gender pay gap at apprenticeship level.
- Introduce a dedicated period of leave for fathers paid closer to replacement earnings rate. Current shared parental leave legislation is welcome, but too few fathers will be able to take it.
- Build on the extension of free childcare by investing in our childcare infrastructure so that we have affordable, flexible and high quality care for children.
“Finally, some positive news came out two weeks ago with the landmark abolishment of employment tribunal fees by the Supreme Court. Now that employees won’t have to face an uphill struggle to pay up to £1,200 in tribunal fees I would hope and expect that women will be more incentivised to stand up and speak out, whenever and wherever pay inequality is found.
“Women (and men) who have concerns about pay disparity should seek a disclosure from their employer. Any failure from an employer to comply with a reasonable request for transparency will open themselves up to the risk of litigation so that employees can enforce their statutory rights. The mood for a quickening of progress on this issue is increasing, especially in light of the BBC gender pay rates coming to the fore in recent weeks, where it was shown that male and female presenters on the same shows, such as Newsnight and Radio 4’s Today programme, were receiving significantly different amounts. This cannot be right. It would be laudable for the government and civil service to lead by example on this issue and create a working environment that does not discriminate based on gender.”
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