Widening civil service gender pay gap is a failure of successive Governments’ pay policies

Today’s report that senior female civil servants are paid on average over 5% less than men in equivalent posts is no surprise, says the FDA.

The Government’s own evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body shows that among the senior civil service (SCS), women are paid 5.4% less than their male counterparts, up from 5% in 2011. Worse still, the same evidence shows that SCS remuneration overall is now barely comparable with the private sector, as the pay gap at senior levels is so great. Increasingly this is also now the situation within the public sector as civil servants look - and in some cases, move - across to the NHS for salaries that can be up to 200% higher.

FDA General Secretary Dave Penman said:

“It is right to view the widening gender pay gap as a failure of Government pay policy for the civil service, but the problem runs much deeper. Pay freezes started by the last Government and perpetuated by this one have led to a distorted and dysfunctional pay system in the civil service. It is no wonder that nearly a third of top performing senior civil servants want to leave the service as soon as possible.

“Our recent SCS survey showed that 40% of our members believe there are equal pay issues in their workplace and the FDA has, and will, pursue cases through the courts where necessary. We will continue to press this Government - and the next - to hold a full review of civil service pay.”

Notes for editors
1. The FDA is the trade union for the UK's senior public servants and professionals. FDA membership includes more than 19,000 senior civil servants, Government policy advisors, prosecutors, diplomats, tax professionals, economists, solicitors and other professionals working across Government and the NHS.

2. The FDA (formerly the First Division Association) should be referred to simply as "The FDA" and can be described as "the senior public servants’ union".

3. The FDA can be found on Twitter @FDA_union.

4. The FDA’s alternative White Paper - ‘Delivering for the Nation: Securing a World-Class Civil Service – outlining our analysis of the challenges facing the civil service and our recommendations for change, can be read here.

5. In October 2013, the FDA - jointly with Prospect - submitted written evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body. This evidence can be downloaded here. Both unions gave oral evidence to the SSRB in December 2013.

6. The Government submitted its evidence to the SSRB in January 2014. This evidence can be downloaded here.

7. The SCS pay survey was conducted online over two weeks in September 2013 by SCS members of the FDA and Prospect. More than 500 current members of the SCS filled in a 50 question survey.

8. Key figures from the 2013 survey (comparable 2012 figure in brackets):

• 45% have not received a consolidated pay award this year
• 76% have not received a non-consolidated pay award this year (75%)
• 95% are not satisfied with the overall pay arrangements in the SCS including 56% who were very dissatisfied (92% and 55% respectively)
• 93% do not agree that their pay award should be capped until at least 2017 in the interests of the UK economy
• 95% are not satisfied with the pace with which they are progressing in their pay band (93%)
• 92% do not consider that the SCS pay system produces fair and equitable results (89%) including 91% of top performers
• When asked how SCS members think their pay compares with similar jobs in the private sector, 85% said that on the basis of available evidence – chiefly job adverts and contact with comparable job holders – they thought they were paid less than the private sector. In comparison with the wider public sector, on the same basis 57% think they are paid less than similar post holders.

Recruitment & Retention
• 42% report recruitment difficulties in their organisation
• 44% report retention difficulties - perhaps unsurprising as only 44% would recommend the civil service as a career choice.
• The main functions or posts highlighted as having particular problems with recruitment/retention (there wasn’t much distinction between the two) were commercially skilled roles and technical specialists – including scientists, lawyers, IT, tax professionals and procurement.
• Again, the issue of progression and comparability features with difficulties motivating staff at deputy director level to apply for more senior posts when there is little or no financial reward in doing so.
• Another area flagged up by some respondents was the foreseeable, yet unaddressed, issues flowing from the demographics of current staff with some predicting significant issues in the next few years as a result of particularly high numbers of retirements among key staff, again particularly those with technical expertise.

• 40% do not feel they have adequate opportunities to enhance their SCS competencies primarily due to lack of time and lack of opportunities.
• More than a quarter cite budgetary factors as a reason they are not able to enhance their competencies.

• 86% at least understand the pay and performance management arrangements although a surprising 10% of top performers don’t.
• However, 83% do not see a clear link between their performance and their pay – including 40% of top performers.
• 40% do not think promotion processes are clear and transparent.
• Nearly a quarter do not consider their performance objectives reflect their performance (a fifth) and nearly a third don’t think their current core competencies reflect the main responsibilities of their role (a quarter).
• Overall however, 35% haven’t yet agreed an annual performance agreement for 2013 (33%).

• Only 3% say their morale has increased in the last year with 67% saying it has decreased (4% and 72%).
• The main reasons cited are pay: 80%, pay progression – 69%, pensions – 60% and pay comparability – 58%.
• 69% feel less optimistic about their job than they did 12 months ago including 59% or top performers, 69% have seriously considered leaving the SCS (66%) including more than 68% of top performers and 70% are more inclined to look for a job outside the civil service than they were a year ago (63%) including nearly three quarters of top performers.
• Nearly a third said they would like to leave the civil service as soon as possible (a quarter) including 27% of top performers.

Who responded?
• Of those who responded, almost a third were in the top performance group with a further 63% in the achieving group (compared with the performance management system that sets 25% in ‘top’ and 65% in ‘achieving’).
• 81% were recruited into the SCS from within the civil service with 11% recruited from the private sector.
• Two thirds were male and 93% from a white, British ethnic background.
• Three quarters were from SCS 1 and respondents generally had either 4-6 years or 11-15 years’ service.
• The largest single group, around a fifth of respondents, are earning between £65,000 and £70,000 a year.

9. For further information contact:
• Dave Penman, FDA General Secretary, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07967 503827.
• Kay Hender, Communications Officer, tel: 020 7401 5555 or 07980 700747.