Revealed: the civil service departments with the biggest gender pay gaps

CSW digs into this year's civil service people statistics to see which organisations have the biggest gaps in hourly earnings for women and men, and how gender pay gaps have changed over time
Photo: Alicja/Pixabay


This week's publication of the annual civil service people statistics showed the median pay gap – the difference in average hourly pay of men and women in the civil service – has widened for the first time in six years. Here CSW digs down into some of the data to show which departments have reported the biggest discrepancies in pay, and which have managed – and failed – to shrink their gender pay gaps over the last few years.


Which central government departments had the biggest gender pay gaps in 2022?

The civil service people statistics tally up gender-gap figures across more than 100 organisations, including core departments, agencies and regulators, as well as giving totals for departmental groups. Of the 16 central government departments – including their agencies – the Treasury had the biggest pay gap, at 17.1%. Its total includes figures for the Government Actuary's Department and NS&I. Across the Cabinet Office and its agencies, the figure was 16.6%, while there was a 12.6% gender pay gap at HM Revenue and Customs.

The Ministry of Justice and Department for Transport also had gender pay gaps of more than 10%, but the Department for Work and Pensions had none at all.

But when departments' respective agencies are removed from the calculations, the balance changes.  The Cabinet Office now takes pole position, with a 19% gender pay gap, leapfrogging the Treasury at 18%.

How have the central government departments' gender pay gaps changed over time?

While the Treasury has remained close to the top of the rankings over the last 14 years, statistical releases dating back to 2008 show there have been some changes. Notably, the Cabinet Office has climbed the board while others, such as HM Revenue and Customs and the Ministry of Defence, have managed to shrink their gender pay gaps and have ended up further down the table.

DfE data includes 2008 data on its predecessor department the Department for Children, Schools and Families. MHCLG, DHSC and DCMS data includes their predecessor departments DCLG, DH and DCMS (sans digital).

At a glance: which civil service organisations had the biggest gender pay gaps overall this year?


Overall, the Health and Safety Executive had the biggest gender pay gap of any organisation, at 23.1%. The Scotland Office followed, with 21.6%, and UK Export Finance, with an 18.3% gap.

Figures for smaller departments and agencies are more volatile than for bigger departments, as small changes in staffing – even individual appointments, in some cases – can swing the balance from year to year. The Scotland Office had around 135 staff, who are employed by the Scottish Government or Ministry of Justice, in March while UKEF had 492. HSE, by contrast, had 2,557 staff.

There were also some negative pay gaps this year. At the Food Standards Agency, average hourly pay was 21.2% higher for women than for men, primarily because there are many more men – mostly meat inspectors – in jobs at the lower end of the pay scale. The National Archives had a smaller negative gender pay gap, at -3.7%, as did Ofsted, at -1.1%.









Below you can see the median gender pay gaps for each civil service organisation that reported results in 2022:

Responding to this year's figures, a government spokesperson told CSW: “The median civil service gender pay gap has continued to fall across most government departments. “We know there is more work to be done and we are committed to ensuring all civil servants are treated fairly, regardless of gender, ethnicity or any other personal characteristic.”

Read more about this year's civil service people statistics, including what departments had to say about their pay gaps, here.


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