Tower Hamlets gender pay gap: A ‘massive milestone’ for women but more to be done

PUBLISHED: 17:33 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 15:19 10 April 2018

Public bodies, charities and businesses employing 250 or more staff have been reporting the percentage difference between what they pay men and women on average per hour. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

Public bodies, charities and businesses employing 250 or more staff have been reporting the percentage difference between what they pay men and women on average per hour. Picture: Dominic Lipinski/PA

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Public bodies, charities and businesses across the borough have reported differences in men and women’s pay for the first time.

Employers with 250 or more staff have to report average differences in pay between all male and female employees by law at midnight tonight. The figures for this year are a snapshot of pay reported on one day last year.

The gender pay gap is not the same as equal pay, which deals with the difference between what men and women are paid for doing the same job. The figures reported this year are a snapshot of pay taken in one day last year.

Women working for Tower Hamlets Council earn on average 8.4 per cent less than men meaning women earn 92p for every £1 men do. The 2016 UK average was 18.1pc.

In its report the council said introducing the london living wage, enhanced maternity leave and flexible working options would help lower the gap.

The council also reported an average hourly pay difference of £3.17 between black and minority ethnic (BAME) employees and white workers with BAME staff earning on average 15.6pc less.

Shadwell Cllr Rabina Khan of the People’s Alliance of Tower Hamlets, said: “This is a massive milestone. Especially since it has been one hundred years since women won the right to vote. We should have introduced [gender pay reporting] a long time ago.”

Bethnal Green Women’s Equality Party local election candidate Jessie Macneil-Brown welcomed pay gap reporting but urged government to go further and demand a breakdown of pay based on gender, age and ethnicity to help get “to the heart” of the problem over fair pay.

“We need now to identify where the key issues are and push for the right actions,” she said.

In its own report, Barts Health NHS Trust outlined a 20.2pc pay gap. It said the quarter of its staff who are men are paid on average one fifth more than the three quarters of women employees.

It added evidence of a gender imbalance among its top management, medical, dental and admin posts.

But Tower Hamlets Homes bucked the trend with a women’s average hourly rate 14pc higher than men’s meaning for every £1 a man makes, a woman earns £1.14. However, Tower Hamlets College’s gender pay gap shows women earn an average hourly rate 13.2pc lower than male colleagues.

A Tower Hamlets council spokesman said: “Our pay gap outcome is influenced when comparing with those councils that have kept certain jobs such as refuse collection and street cleaning in-house, as these jobs tend to be made up of a higher proportion of male workers.

“However, we can also see that for certain jobs which have a traditionally higher female workforce such as school meals supervisors, our council staff have benefited from our commitment to pay at least the London living wage - a policy we are particularly proud of. Similar jobs when contracted out are far more likely to be around the national minimum wage of £7.83 per hour, and less for under 25-year-olds.

“As helpful a focus as publishing the figures can be, we know that this is only part of the picture. As a council we have a number of schemes supporting many female residents into well paid jobs. This runs alongside family friendly employment opportunities that specifically tackle the barriers that childcare can place before women joining, or returning to the jobs market,” he added.

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