Gender pay inequality still persists

04 April 2018

Female and male officer

From April 1 all public sector organisations with over 250 employees have a statutory duty to publish the results of gender pay gap audits and failure to comply could lead to criminal sanction and any resulting reputational damage.

But what impact will it have and what will happen as a result?

Andy Fittes, General Secretary for PFEW, welcomed the fact that forces will be required to publish their audits of pay equality, and believes it is a very positive step towards examining - and then addressing - the issues of pay inequalities that we know still exist.

The Police Negotiating Board (PNB) commissioned an equal pay audit of the gender outcome of the pay arrangements for police officers across the UK in 2009, 2011 and 2012.

The audit was updated in February 2016 to include data from the 2013 Home Office’s Police Workforce Census.  Recent analysis of the data by PFEW showed that whilst progress had been made in reducing the gender pay gap since the audits were first conducted in 2009, the rate at which the pay gap decreased since 2013, has slowed.

The Equal Pay Act was established in 1970 before becoming law in 1975, stemming from the successful claim for equal pay for equal work made in 1968 by a group of female employees who worked as sewing machinists at Ford’s Dagenham car factory, which later became the subject of the film Made in Dagenham. The 1975 legislation was subsequently replaced by the Equalities Act 2010 and even though the legislation is approaching its 50th anniversary of its passage through Parliament, the issue of unequal pay still remains for many.

Pay inequality is a complex issue and can be influenced by the ratio of male to female and full-time to part-time employees. Across England and Wales female officers account for 29% of the total workforce strength.  

Easyjet recently hit the headlines for its apparent pay inequality. They claimed the cause was due to the different job roles that their employees typically have, and the gender bias that exists between those roles. In this case the results are skewed by the number of male pilots, whose pay is typically higher, than that of cabin crew, who are predominately female.

The influence of family and children can also have a greater impact on female employees and the gender pay gap is also heavily influenced by the time that female employees may take away from work, due to inadequate maternity leave arrangements and the high cost of child care, to raise a family.

Mr Fittes continued: “As a Federation we endorse the principle of equal pay for like work, work of equal value and work rated as equivalent for officers and staff and we aim to eliminate any sex bias in the pay systems operating in both the police service and the Police Federation. In this regard matters of employment and pay, both current and proposed, need to be assessed and monitored for their equality impact.”