The clearest picture yet of Britain’s gaping gender pay gap emerged yesterday, as the deadline ran out for large employers to publish details of their pay rates.
The figures reveal that nearly eight out of 10 companies and public sector bodies pay their male employees more than their female colleagues – with football clubs, education trusts and budget airlines among those with the most significant disparities.
Ryanair is one of the best-known companies to appear in the top section of the national list of those with the widest pay gaps, with its Yorkshire rival Jet2 in the regional top 10. Ryanair pays women 71.8 per cent less than men on average, when comparing middle-earning hourly rates – the equivalent of 28p for every £1 that men earn.
It said the difference was because 546 of its UK pilots were male and only eight female.
Jet2, based at Leeds Bradford Airport, said its “pilot and engineering teams” earned relatively high salaries compared to the large number of female cabin crew members on lower grades. The airport itself reported a 32.1 per cent pay gap.
The holding company for Millwall FC, along with several Yorkshire clubs including Huddersfield Town and the two Sheffield sides, also recorded significant disparities.
Millwall Holdings reported a gap of 80 per cent, compared to an average across all companies of 12 per cent.
But the English Football League said the figures were likely to be skewed by the high salaries paid to players.
Health Education England, the Leeds-based NHS body which provides “national leadership and coordination” for training in the health service, had the fifth widest pay gap in the region, with middle-earning women paid less than half the male equivalent. Just over 50 per cent of the organisation’s “senior leaders” and half of its board members are women.
Its chief nurse, Professor Lisa Bayliss-Pratt, said it was reviewing its recruitment policies and supporting women returning to work after maternity leave by offering shared parental leave and flexible working.
Organisations with 250 or more employees have been required to submit their data on gender pay gaps to the Government’s Equalities Office – and the deadline of midnight on Wednesday saw a last-minute scramble to avoid the threat of legal action.
Just over 10,000 submissions were recorded, with 78 per cent showing a male-skewed pay gap. Just 14 per cent reported a disparity in favour of women.
In February, early submissions revealed that three of Yorkshire’s school academy trusts were in the top tier of those with wide pay gaps – an indication that although all were “equal pay employers”, many female workers had yet to break through the “glass ceiling” into higher-paid roles. The full list sees half of the county’s top 10 populated by such organisations.
Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, said the publication of the figures was a “game-changer” for workplace culture
“It forces employers to look at themselves and it prompts employees to ask some hard questions,” he said.
“Finally women are realising that they have a right to talk about pay and they cannot be silenced.
“By finding out what their colleagues earn they are then in a position to challenge any pay inequality. It is much more common than people realise.”
Rebecca Hilsenrath, chief executive of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said: “This is not optional – it is the law and we will be fully enforcing against all companies that do not report.”
Of Britain’s biggest employers, Lloyds Bank had the largest middle-earning pay gap at 42.7 per cent, followed by the Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group.
At the other end of the scale, BT and American Airlines had a gap in favour of women, while Primark, McDonald’s and Costa were among those reporting no wage gap.
Of the 353 councils in England, 31 did not report their gender pay gap figures.
The gap is calculated as the difference between the average salaries of men and women and differs from equal pay, which requires firms to pay people the same salary for doing the same job, regardless of gender.