Women, Catholic and disabled staff in the Northern Ireland Civil Service are paid at least 7% less on average than male, Protestant or non-disabled officials, a new report has found.
The gender gap is partly due to more men being in higher paid grades, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency’s latest report on NICS pay. It gives the same reason for the discrepancy between the earnings of Catholic and Protestant staff, but acknowledges missing information means the data on disabled staff should be treated with caution.
The agency said median pay for female staff in NICS was 7.4% lower than the amount male staff receive – £26,575 versus £28,706. There was the same 7.4% gap between Catholic staff and Protestant officials, and for disabled staff compared to those who have not declared a disability.
NISRA’s Information was based on a snapshot of NICS staff at the end of March.
Gender and relgion gap 'due to grade differences'
The gender pay gap was 6.4% in 2019 and 2020 but rose to 7.4% in 2021 and has not changed this year.
NISRA said the primary reason for the gap was that “the majority of females are in lower paid grades… compared with the majority of males who are in higher paid grades”.
Around 52% of females are in pay grade EOI, while roughly 53% males are in the higher pay grade EOII.
The biggest pay gap was in the “Other” grade – those not on NICS pay scales, the majority of whom are prison grade staff – where there is a difference of 11.9% in favour of men.
But the report also found several gaps in favour women: at “Industrial 1 Level” (5.5%) and smaller gaps at the higher grade levels of permanent secretary (2.3%) and G3 (1.9%).
“Differences of this kind can arise from a range of factors, including the length of time that staff have been in their grade, differing proportions of males and females across grades, and the overall staff profile of the NICS,” the report said.
The report gave the same explanation for the current 7.4% difference in median pay between Catholics and Protestants that it gave for the gender gap: a majority of Catholics are in pay grade EOI and most Protestants are in EOII.
The biggest pay gap in favour of Protestants was found in the Other grade (7.3%). The report also found discrepancies in the highest pay levels – permanent secretaries (4.4%), G3 (5.5%) and G5 (1.1%). No gaps were found within the other levels.
In 2019, Catholics received the same pay on average as Protestants, but there was a gap of 6.4% in 2020 and 7.4% in 2021.
Disability data 'missing'
The report was less clear on the reasons for the variation in pay for disabled and non-disabled staff. It said the data was based on incomplete information and was likely not to be representative of the true number of disabled staff.
“Again, it should be emphasised that median differences of this type can arise from a complex range of factors,” the report said.
“It should be noted that information on disability is missing for a high proportion of NICS staff. Any staff for whom this information is missing have been allocated to the ‘No disability declared’ category. The true proportion of disabled staff is therefore likely to be higher than recorded.”