First ever Whitehall gender pay gap survey reveals Department for Transport has biggest differential

Departmental figures show that seven big government departments have an average pay gap of over 10%

Whitehall departments have released figures on their gender pay gaps for the first time. Credit: PA

By Richard Johnstone

19 Dec 2017

Figures released by government departments have revealed the full extent of the gender pay gap in Whitehall for the first time, with the biggest average pay gap in the Department for Transport, at 17%.

Departments are required to publish the data under regulation put in place earlier this year, and the figures published yesterday follow the publication of data in June by the Department for Education, the first to reveal its differential, which showed that average pay for women in the department was 5.3% lower than for men.

The overall gender pay gap in the civil service has been calculated by the Office for National Statistics at 7.2%, but the new tranche of figures revealed the gaps across Whitehall and found women were paid less than men on average in every major ministry.


An analysis by Civil Service World and its sister title PoliticsHome found, the second largest gap was at the Department for Exiting the European Union, where the median gender pay gap is 15.3%, with a gap over 10% in five other major ministries – the Department of Health (14.2%), the Ministry of Defence (12.5%), the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (11.5%), the Foreign Office (10.6%) and the Home Office (10.1%).

None of the reports from the 16 departments had a negative gender pay gap, which would have meant men being paid less than women. The lowest average differential is at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), where it stands at 3.3%, with other low differentials in the Department for International Trade (3.6%) and the Ministry of Justice.

The reports also revealed the average differential in bonus payments to men and woman across government. The biggest differential is at the Treasury, where bonuses are on average one third (33.5%) lower for women than men. A similar differential exists at the Department of Health (33.1%), while there is more than a quarter differential at the Department for Transport (25.2%) and a one-fifth differential at DEFRA (20.6%), the Cabinet Office (19.1%) and the Ministry of Justice (18.3%).

However, two departments reported a negative differential in bonus payments, meaning women were paid more than men at both the Department for International Trade (-14.4%) and DCMS (-7.1%).

Responding to the publications, Zohra Francis, the equality officer at the FDA union for senior public servants, said that “it cannot be right that, in 2017, women are still being discriminated against and undervalued, in some departments earning almost 17% less than their male colleagues”.

She added: “It should be abundantly clear at all levels of government that such flaws in the pay system can only be addressed by a fully-funded pay rise.

"While the civil service should be applauded for shining a light on its gender pay gap with this latest data, departments have a long way to go if they are serious about closing it.

"We know that women in the public sector are hit twice as hard – by both the gender pay gap and the ongoing squeeze on public sector pay, which makes resolving the issue even harder. A fully-funded pay rise would help to tackle many of the inconsistencies and unfairness that have developed over the years.”

She said that the union “stands ready to work with departments to close the pay gap, and we will continue to fight for equality at work and called on the civil service to lead the way by revealing pay gap data for its BAME and disabled staff.

Garry Graham deputy general secretary of Prospect added that the union would be taking legal action where necessary to address the gaps.

“However, the Cabinet Office and the Treasury need to take a more proactive and supportive role. In the Met Office. Prospect lodged 73 equal pay cases and the instinct of the Cabinet Office and the Treasury was not to address structural deficiencies within the pay system but to fight us every step of the way on legal technicalities.

“Ultimately, we were successful and that has delivered a new pay system which addresses the structural deficiencies contributing to the pay inequality. If the government is serious about addressing the issue of equal pay as well as supporting the specialist and functional agenda which is a key part of their reform plan for the civil service – we need a more coherent and centrally driven approach towards pay.”

He called for the government to liftthe 1% cap and allowing departments to address equal pay issues separate to the pay remit process, as well introducing open and transparent pay systems so individuals can see how they can progress through their pay ranges.

“We believe that the lack of pay progression systems in the civil service is a major contributor to people doing similar jobs and being paid at very different rates of pay and this compounds pay inequality,” he added.

A government spokesman said this “unprecedented transparency” would encourage action to close the gap.

"The civil service has been leading the way by publishing its gender pay gap figures for a number of years as part of the annual civil service statistics, and so we are pleased to see that the civil service gender pay gap is narrowing, and remains significantly lower than in the private sector.

“But of course there is still more to do and we need to build on this progress to continue leading by example and improve the gender balance across all departments, agencies and professions.”

In its report setting out its figures, the DfT said it had “a larger proportion of female employees in the more junior grades, and a larger proportion of male employees in the more senior grades”. This is mainly due to the large numbers of female employees in administrative grades in its Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency, an executive agency that is the largest employer in DfT. “This does bring the average pay for women down and can go some way towards explaining the gender pay gap,” it stated. “In addition to this, as DVLA is based in Swansea, the large number of female staff there will be on the national pay bands, which are lower than that of London [rates paid to staff on more senior grades] to reflect the difference in living costs.”

DExEU highlighted that the majority of its staff included in the snapshot were are on loan from 26 other government departments and devolved administrations, who operate their own pay scales and grading systems. “Those staff who came across to DExEU on loan have their base pay determined by their home department which DExEU have no control over.”

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