Met Office tables deal to close its 10% gender pay gap by 2020
Offer to ‘transform pay system’ of weather forecaster follows legal action from female employees earning £7,000 less than male colleagues
Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA
The Met Office has announced a new pay package that could lead to equal pay between men and women by 2020, after legal action was launched by 77 female workers who claimed they earned less than men doing similar jobs.
The national weather service, which is an executive agency of the Department for Business, Energy and Climate Change, has struck a deal with trade union Prospect despite the government’s 1% cap on public sector pay.
The Met Office told Civil Service World that due to the ongoing legal case it cannot comment on the exact nature of the package, which will be subject to a vote by staff.
But it is known that union members were lobbying government to allow the forecaster – which is officially a government trading fund and therefore self-financing – more freedom over how it pays its staff.
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Prospect found a 10.7% gender pay gap at the Met Office when it was asked to conduct an equal pay audit in 2015. It said that senior female meteorologists earned around £7,000 less than their male colleagues.
Staff took part in strike action over pay policy in February last year, when Prospect told CSW that the public sector pay cap was restricting the forecaster’s ability to close the gap and retain specialist staff – whose pay was 20-30% below private sector rates.
Commenting on the new deal, Gordon Hutchinson, Prospect NEC member and staff representative of the Met Office, said the offer addressed staff concerns over pay while being affordable for the forecaster.
“Our members want to be part of a world-class national meteorological service that is sustainable and fair,” he said, adding that staff had made reasonable requests and high quality legal arguments.
He added: “Strength of feeling and also a willingness to back it up with action when needed has resulted in clear improvement for the professionals working at the Met Office.”
Kay Eldergill, Met Office director of human resources, said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement in principle with Prospect in relation to gender pay equality matters, and the settlement of the equal pay claim made in the Employment Tribunal.
“This agreement in principle is underpinned by the Met Office’s proposals to transform its pay system, which will focus on achieving gender pay equality and is subject to Prospect members voting to accept.”
The union, which is recommending its members vote in favour of the deal, said many employees will receive better pay as a result.
Mike Clancy, Prospect general secretary, said this case showed that trade unions can help make workplaces fairer.
He added: “Prospect speaks up for our members on equal pay wherever they are. And in the public sector where the gender pay gap is made worst by the pay cap, we are campaigning to scrap the cap too.”
The Met Office’s gender pay cap is lower than the national average of around 18%, and the civil service average of around 13%, according to the latest ONS figures.
All employers with more than 250 staff will now be expected to publish gender pay gap figures by April 2018.
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