Discussing the gender pay gap - January 2018

In the final few weeks before the deadline, we look at what councils need to do to publish their Gender Pay Gap reports. Jisha Hales from the Government Equalities Office and LGA’s Phil Bundy give us guidance on presenting your report, and Jo Miller, Chief Executive of Doncaster Council and President of Solace, and the council’s HR lead, Caroline Barkley, give us a fascinating case study about publishing their report and how their gender pay gap plans are putting equality at the heart of the council.

To contact the Workforce Team about any comments and ideas email: workforce@local.gov.uk.



Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.00.14-00.00.50)
So, it’s a new year and we’re looking forward to the deadline for Gender Pay Gap Reporting arriving in March. We know councils have been working really hard to gather all their data and get ready for the reporting. So we’re going to have a look at what kind of things are councils dealing with to get their reports ready. To help us look at this we’ve got Phil Bundy here from the LGA and also we have Jisha Hales from the Government Equalities Office. Later on we’ll hear from Doncaster Council on what they have been doing to get ready with their report, but first of all, Jisha and Phil, welcome both. I suppose the first thing to ask is what do we mean by Gender Pay Gap?

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.00.51-00.01.01)
The Gender Pay Gap measures the differences in the average hourly earnings between men and women. It’s important not to conflate that with Equal Pay.

Phil Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.01.02-00.01.11)
And I suppose leading on from that point, you know, Equal Pay is about making sure that men and women get paid the same rate for the same work or work that’s, sort of, similar.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.01.12-00.01.17)
So, Jisha, why are we asking employers to report on what the gap is in gender pay?

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.01.18-00.01.55)
Well, closing the gender pay gap is not only the right thing to do, it’s good for the economy. McKinsey estimates that by closing the gender gaps in work we could add £150 billion to our gross domestic product by 2025. The gender pay gap has been falling over time, but women still on average earn 18 per cent less than men. We clearly need to do more to bridge this gap and this is why we want employers to understand what the gap is in their organisation and identify steps to tackle the causes. 

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.01.55-00.02.07)
Jisha, you mentioned there looking at why the gaps exist and that’s the key to all of this, isn’t it? The reports are looking at some sort of description of why it exists and also what the employers are going to do to tackle the gaps.

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.02.08-00.02.30)
Yes, absolutely. Employers need to understand what has caused any pay gaps in their organisation and identify steps to tackle the causes.  Each organisation may have different reasons for the pay gap and so they may need different steps to tackle the causes.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.02.31-00.02.37)
So, Phil, Jisha mentioned some steps that employers can take, but can we talk very practically, what could those be?

Phil Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.02.37-00.03.07)
Well, I think it’s, sort of, a question of looking at things like, well, how can we encourage, you know, people would help them to stay in work and, you know, to develop their careers so that women are in, sort of, better paid roles a lot of the time and that could be things like having…sort of, encouraging flexible working for all types of roles. Looking at things like shared parental leave more, looking at things like career breaks so that people can return and if you look at all that and think about how that’s going to work in relation to your data to encourage, you know, things to change in the future.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.03.07-00.03.31)
Phil, you mentioned some really good things that employers can do and it will be interesting to see in the plans when they come out what they’re intending to do. But Jisha, if I can ask you about, sort of, wider employment issues that feed into the gender pay gap, such as occupation, segregation and things like that, these obviously influence the figures and what’s the government doing about that?

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.03.32-00.04.07)
Yes there’s a wide programme of work to support women in the workplace as well as making our work places fairer for everyone and we’re looking at how we can tackle the causes of the gender pay gap.  This includes encouraging more women and girls to take up stem careers and we’re also looking at how we can ensure that caring responsibilities are shared more equally between men and women. If people want to find out more about what the government is doing there’s lots of information resources on our website.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Advisor, LGA (00.04.08-00.04.25)
So, Phil, let’s take a look at the reports in more detail. We’ve got a few months until the actual reporting deadline in March. Are we clear what we’re reporting on ‘cause I know there were some issues around on-call and continued professional development and all of that that wasn’t quite clear a few months ago?

Phil Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.04.25-00.05.41)
Yeah, I suppose if we deal with the on-call point first of all. You go back to the point on what you’re actually reporting, as Jisha said, is the average hourly rate of pay. And to do that you need to work out what someone’s weekly working hours are, take their rate of pay for that week etc. and then get to your average rate of pay and the question is, do you include time when people are on-call within working, you know, hours when you’re working out what a week’s hours look like. And the legislation actually addresses this, it basically says that you follow the formula that you would use for the national minimum wage/living wage. You basically say if the hours count for the purposes of that you include them in the weekly working hours when you’re working out this average pay figure. So yeah, you also mentioned around CPD payments and I’m thinking here about the payments that made to Firefighters and the issue, one of the questions we’ve had is, do they fall into the category of a bonus because under the Gender Pay Gap Reporting stuff you have to report bonus gaps separately. We think they do fall into the category because they relate to an incentive to performance and so people will need to report those as a bonus and there’s information on this as well as information on how you deal with on-call time in our advisory bulletins.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.05.41-00.05.46)
And Phil, can we talk about schools? I understand there’s some issues around reporting for schools.

Phil Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.05.47-00.06.51)
Yeah I think, you know, a lot of people watching this podcast will know this already, but for maintain schools where we, the local authority, are the employer, the normal rule you’d expect is that the local authorities, the employer, would be responsible for doing the Gender Pay Gap Reporting as they are for their other employees. But the regulations make it clear that that’s not the case, in that case it’s the governing body in that school that’s responsible for doing the reporting; that is of course so if there are 250 or more employees within that school. There are also issues around again coming back to the point about, you know, working out the weekly hours and then getting the pay rates. How do you do that for Teachers because they don’t have, sort of, a standard week that they work because of holidays etc.? And also for term-time only workers because their hours vary because of school closure periods, but also you’ve got the issue though related to that that they are paid quite often still in 12 equal instalments. So you need to think about how you’re going to work out how to do the figures or else you could get some quirks in there.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.06.52-00.06.57)
So, Jisha and Phil, is there any advice for the teachers in the term-time only issue?

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.06.58-00.07.09)
Yes, we’ve included some suggested examples in our guidance for all employers. This is the joint guidance that the Government Equalities Office produced with ACAS.

Phil Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.07.10-00.07.37)
And what you’ll see from that guidance is for teachers one approach is to say, well, actually work it out on the basis of their 1265 hours directed time that they work, using a 39 week basis over the year.  And then for term-time only workers what you do is you basically take an annualised hours approach. So you add up all the hours that they work, factoring in holiday and then divide by the number of weeks that they work per year, again factoring in a week’s holiday that they have.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.07.38-00.07.48)
It’s interesting to hear some of the very practical issues that councils will need to think about while getting their reports ready. Going to speak to Doncaster Council and listen to their experience of preparing their report.

Jo Miller – Chief Executive, Doncaster Council and President of SOLACE (00.07.49-00.10.07)
So Doncaster was the first local authority in the country and one of the first employers required to publish its Gender Pay Gap Report. That was a very deliberate strategy, not least because Mayor Ros Jones and myself are the only Elected Mayor, Chief Executive, all female combination in the UK and the female President of Solace. In both roles and Mayor Ros we have put women and champion in diversity and equality at the heart of our agenda. So what’s the success of the Gender Pay Gap? It’s about leadership, it’s about doing what you say and saying what you do. When you have a priority demonstrating that you meet it. So that’s why we were first and we wanted to do so much more than just the bold figures in the government’s report to really understand the stories of women, where they start in the workforce, how they can progress and how we…not just to average figures and gaps, but what’s the mean, what’s the median, what’s the real story of overtime and how women succeed in this organisation? Because we fundamentally believe that if you get gender equality and women right, then you will solve the much wider equality issues that we face. Gender Pay Gap Reporting is just one of the things that we’re doing to modernise our workforce as we modernise the council. The council’s fundamental role is to convene everybody in this place, across all the sectors to make sure that we can deliver the best for our place and people. That means the old days of the most money goes to the people with the most staff to supervise and the most budget, those days are gone. We need to reward those people who can be ingenious, who can do the most with the least, if you like, who can be creative. So part of our modernisation is how we recruit people differently, how we train them differently, how we test out, if you like, their values and what they’re delivering for our purpose. And I think also in terms of the brilliant work of Caroline Barkley and her team, who have lead this, this is, you know, our employees saying actually we’re not hiding our light under a bushel.  We know what we can do, we can lead the way and we’re not afraid to share that with others and learn with other councils. So it’s the new Doncaster, it’s the way we roll round here and it’s part of our purpose, which is we exist to make sure this place and its people thrive with value for money at the heart of what we do. Gender Pay Gap Reporting is just one element.

Caroline Barkley – HR and OD Business Manager, Organisational Transformation, Doncaster Council (00.10.07-00.12.54)
Doncaster got involved in Gender Pay Reporting when the initial consultation paper came out and at that time we looked at it and we thought, “Goodness, we don’t actually think we can calculate it with the complexities of our payroll,” and so we set about to try and do it then. We found a number of problems, which we fed back to the Government Office and some of the legislation was changed as a result. So when the actual piece of legislation came out we were ready, we had a good idea of what we needed to do. The first challenge was the calculation itself. Having promoted equality, diversity and inclusion with our workforce we have people on lots of different terms and conditions of employment, so we have part-time workers, full-time workers, casual workers, term-time only workers and staff on annualised hours. So actually doing the calculation was quite a difficult and complex process. The second challenge was around telling the story and here in Doncaster we wanted to make sure we told Doncaster’s story, reflecting our workforce, which operates across lots of different sectors. So we have our engineers, we have our cleaners, we have our caterers, unlike a lot of industries where they’ll only be comparing cleaners, we’re comparing lots of diverse groups of staff. So telling our story in a very simple and clear message that reflected our workforce here was really important to us and the third challenge is yet to come and that’s the challenge of avoiding comparing once council’s data with another council. We are all different now, we provide different services. Some have contracted-out services, some still provide service, so we must avoid the third challenge of comparing one council with another. Engaging staff and our stakeholders was a key part of our journey. The first thing we did was to engage with our directors and our elected members so they understood Gender Pay in the Doncaster context. The second key area was to talk to our unions so that they understood our gender pay and that it was different from equal pay and the third area was about our staff themselves and engaging them, which Jo did through her regular column to staff and also through putting the report on the intranet and direct communications with the staff. My key tips to others would be to start now and don’t underestimate the amount of time it will take. The second tip is to tell your story in your context and the third key tip is to engage your stakeholders in the journey.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.12.54-00.13.02)
Thank you. That was really interesting and I’m sure there are lots of familiar issues there for councils. So Phil, any final tips for councils getting ready?

Phillip Bundy – Senior Workforce Law Adviser, LGA (00.13.03-00.13.42)
Well, I suppose the first point is that hopefully when you’ve got your figures together you’ll have a positive story to tell, but if you don’t, don’t panic, you know, there’ll be reasons for it. It’s likely to be because, you know, there are different roles dominated by men and different roles dominated by women and explain that and explain what steps you’re taking to address this. But going back to some of the, sort of, real practical issues here is, if you’re not quite sure what you need to do for the reporting stuff and how you need to work out all the figures, you won’t hear me say this very often, but go back to the legislation. Because it does set stuff out, sort of, step-by-step and, you know, if you have a look at that legislation hopefully you’ll find the answer there pretty quickly.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.13.42-00.13.47)
And Jisha, as a final question, what additional resources have you got on your website?

Jisha Hales – Government Equalities Office (00.13.48-00.14.32)
We have a dedicated campaign page on gov.uk for the Gender Pay Gap. This pools together different resources including links to our guidance, but also case studies from employers to show what they’re doing to tackle the Gender Pay Gap. In addition to this I’d encourage people to look at our online viewing service. This is where employers upload their Gender Pay Gap data, but it also has links to their own websites, so if people have published narratives people can access the narratives through the viewing service.

Luann Donald – Senior Workforce Adviser, LGA (00.14.32-00.14.54)
Jisha and Phil, thank you very much and it’s definitely worth having a look on the website where employers are publishing their reports, lots of really useful stuff on there already. And of course if there’s any developments we will publish them on our website, but in the meantime, if you have any comments on anything we’ve covered today you can get in touch at our usual email address, which is, workforce@local.gov.uk.