Suffolk's shock £3,000 gender pay gap

MEN on the county payroll get nearly £3,000 more than women each year, a new study has revealed.Figures released by Suffolk County Council shows there is a 10.

MEN on the county payroll get nearly £3,000 more than women each year, a new study has revealed.

Figures released by Suffolk County Council shows there is a 10.5 per cent difference between male and female full-time pay within the authority with men getting an average of £25,666 a year while women are paid £22,973.

An action plan is now being drawn up in a bid to redress the balance following the findings which came out of an equal pay review.

But it has emerged that other councils in the county have yet to carry out a review, failing to meet a government deadline and could be left with a hefty bill if discrepancies are found.

Nikki Young, services equalities manager at Suffolk County Council, said steps will be put into place in an attempt to correct the pay gap.

However she added the situation is complex as men and women often work in different areas, for different lengths of time and it is often hard to put a value on traditional male or female roles when comparing them against each other.

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She said issues, which can include employees taking periods of time out to care for a relative, can impact on pay grade increases meaning employees can be left behind colleagues over a number of years.

She said: “There are sociological issues present in the work place.

“Some of those the county council may be able to affect change but some may be out of the control of the council.

“The action plan needs to identify what is in our control, what's out of our control and how changes can be made.”

“The organisation is very clearly not sexist but we have to have a very sophisticated model to make it work better.”

The review found that women make up 78pc of Suffolk County Council's workforce, but only 40pc of the council's “top 5pc of earners” are female.

The authors also found that “gender bias” in employment exists in some council departments, where women and men are under-represented, such as fire-fighting and teaching.

There is an under-representation of male employees within primary education and an under-representation of women amongst head teachers.

An action plan to tackle gender pay issues is due to be completed by the summer.

n.Are you a council employee concerned that you are getting less money because of your gender? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

Ipswich Borough Council

Last month it emerged that Ipswich Borough Council is yet to complete a study on the issue and could be left facing a hefty bill if pay discrepancies are discovered.

The council is among around half of all authorities in the UK that failed to meet a deadline of March 2007 for carrying out a pay review to establish whether discrimination is present.

However town bosses insist there is “no issue to resolve”.

A spokesman declined to comment on the issue besides to reveal the council's equal pay review is “still ongoing”.

Suffolk Coastal District Council

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Coastal District Council said: “Human Resources completed the equal pay audit in August 2007 and there were no significant issues in terms of pay equality.

“There were a few minor points that were further investigated and these have now been resolved where necessary.”

Babergh District Council

A Babergh District Council spokesman said: "Babergh is currently working on an equal pay audit.

“At the moment, it is at too early a stage to be able to draw conclusive findings from it."

If pay discrepancies are found at district or county councils, the authority is liable for footing the cost of bumping up the salaries of female staff as well as handing over up to six years' back pay.

When Suffolk County Council completed its pay review in 2002 it made allowance for an additional £5million in the following year's budget to cover bringing salaries up to the right levels.

County chiefs were not required to provide back pay to female employees affected as legislation making this a requirement was only introduced in 2004.

Research published by the Local Government Employers organisation last month showed that authorities across England owe £1billion in back pay to women and an additional £1.4billion to meet the cost of new higher wage bills.

An additional £400million is needed to protect the salaries of workers finding their jobs have been downgraded as a result of pay reviews.