Leeds’s gender pay gap far from closed as thousands of women council workers languish on lowest pay rung

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Thousands of Leeds’s female council workers continue to languish in the lowest pay brackets - but women are also among the authority’s highest earners.

New figures from Leeds City Council reveal that women are massively over-represented in both the HIGHEST and LOWEST pay quartiles (25 per cent blocks of the workforce).

The numbers also reveal that women’s hourly rate is 8.6 per cent LOWER on average than their male counterparts when considered overall, and 13.1 per cent lower when worked out as a median figure.

This is despite the fact that the total workforce at Leeds City Council is 61 per cent female, which also accounts for women being higher represented in every quartile.

The council’s gender pay gap figures reveal that the 25 per cent highest earners at the authority - those earning above £29,825 a year - are 58 per cent women and 42 per cent men.

However in the lowest earners bracket - those earning under £17,092 a year - a staggering 78.8 per cent are women and 21.2 per cent men.

According to 2017 workforce profile figures, published separately to the council’s latest breakdown, there are 14,633 people employed by the authority, 8,894 women and 5,739 men, in both full and part time posts.

The data shows 5,974 women on the lower actual pay grade, and just 638 on the highest.

The Leeds figures come as a new study today claimed that the difference in the earnings of men and women working full-time is now more than £9,000 a year.

The Young Women’s Trust found that men tended to be paid more, reached higher positions and were more likely to work in higher-paid industries.

Chief executive Dr Carole Easton said: “We may have an equal vote but women are still fighting for equal pay.

“Young women are more likely to be on low pay.

“We need urgent action to close the pay gap.

“Real equality means supporting women into better-paid, male-dominated sectors like engineering and construction and tackling low pay in women-dominated sectors.”

Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader of Leeds City Council and the authority’s executive board member in charge of strategy and resources, said there are more women working for the council than men so “we knew that in every quartile, women were going to be higher”.

He said every public sector organisation has to publish its figures in the same format, and Leeds has actually published its figures early.

“I am heartened by some of the numbers, but we know we need to do more for lower paid workers, and we recognisee that the majority of lower paid staff are women,” he said.

“We have done work to raise the pay of the lowest and will continue to do so. Although public sector pay has lagged behind inflation because of the pay cap, we’ve raised the minimum rate of pay to £8.25 so our lowest paid staff have kept up.”

He said that nearly a quarter of council staff work in school kitchens or cleaners, and those tend to be women.

He added he is confident that the eight per cent overall hourly gender pay gap will get smaller, and Leeds will compare well with other cities when they publish their numbers.

However Conservative councillor Matthew Robinson, who has been pushing the council to publish its gender pay figures since last summer, said the authority’s published numbers “don’t tell the whole story”.

“I am really pleased they have been published,” he said.

“But it’s taken six months to get to this stage.

“How many men and women are employed in each of those bands? Also, it doesn’t reflect part or full time employment, obviously that has an ability to skew figures.

“It’s a really good start but Leeds should be going further, and publish detailed figures at local level.

“Leeds Council should be transparent.

“If there’s a year to make a big stand on this, it’s this year, 100 years since women got the vote.”

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