Closing the gender pay gap in local government

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2017 Local Government Service Group Conference
23 February 2017

Conference notes that new government legislation on gender pay gap reporting, whilst a welcome initiative, will not, on its own, make a significant difference to the occupational gender imbalance in local government.

Women continue to be excluded from senior posts within the sector, with as few as 1/3 of all management/director/senior officer posts being held by women. In contrast, the vast majority – as high as 85% – of the lowest paid jobs – in caring, cleaning, catering and clerical work – are also held by women.

Whilst all local authorities should be operating a fair and non-discriminatory pay and grading structure for all workers, in the past few years the gender pay gap in the public sector has actually widened, giving rise to questions on why and how this has happened.

Conference therefore welcomes the involvement of UNISON in the Women and Local Government Commission, which examined whether local government structures work for women.

Among the questions asked were:

1)What are the experiences of women local government officers?

2)What are the barriers to women’s progression to the most senior officer roles?

3)Where is good practice ensuring women are represented at the top?

4)Do women get different senior roles to men?

5)Are the experiences of black and minority ethnic women, LGBT women, women with caring responsibilities and other under-represented groups different?

Conference calls upon the service group executive to:

a)Use the information gathered by the commission and through the gender pay gap reporting mechanism to put pressure on employers to take positive action measures to close the gap;

b)Issue guidance to branches on how this information should be interpreted and used to make progress on closing the gender pay gap within their local authority;

c)Continue to work with the wider union in campaigning for action by the government to take more effective measures to close the gap.