Islington council paying women higher wages than men

Islington pay women around £6 more than the national average

Women are paid “more generously” than men at Islington Council. Surprise figures bucking the national trend, released this week reveal that, on average, women get 12.61 per cent more than men, and bonuses that are 32 per cent higher..

Chairing the audit committee which heard the figures, made public under a new legal requirement for organisations with 250 employees or more, Councillor Nick Wayne said it was “what one would expect,” but that the council would “like to take a deeper look at the whole question of uniform pay.”

“Frankly the data we are statutorily required to give is fairly limited,” he said.

“We get no sense that there’s anything to worry about, but the results are, given our staff profile, what one would expect if there were not any inequalities.”

Announcing the figures, Director of Human Resources at the council, Liz Hayne, said “Women are paid more generously than men in all areas but the lower quartile [caretaker jobs] and more women are paid bonuses.”

She also added that women are paid “more favourably” than at the other two councils Hackney and Haringey.

Explaining the figures, Islington’s gender pay gap report stated that: “There are significantly more men employed in low-paid jobs than women, particularly in areas of work which are traditionally male-dominated, such as waste collection and street cleansing.”

It continued: “[Islington Council] strives to combat discrimination in all its forms and has adopted policies…which demonstrate its commitment to equality of opportunity and to ensuring the dignity at work of all it’s employees.”

Women occupy 56.89 per cent of jobs in the upper pay quartile at the council, which may explain the gender pay gap.

Ms Haynes, who took a 66 per cent pay cut from her private sector job to work at the council, said: “We have policies that make working here really attractive to women returners. It’s a reasonable length of working week, 35 hours, which allows even people who want to work full-time to balance work and professional aspirations with family life.

“I have a colleague in HR who has been here for a long time. When she was having her family, and both of her sons got married last year, the degree of support she received to enable her to have her family and continue working is something she feels enormous loyalty to the council for. So women definitely feel supported.”

“I moved into the public sector and took a 66 per cent pay cut because I felt it would enable me to be there for my son, put him to bed and give him his dinner. These things are very valuable – it’s worth more than 66 per cent.”

Megan Dobney, a founding member of the Sylvia Pankhurst Memorial Committee, which wants to put a statue of the suffragette in Clerkenwell said the report was “very encouraging”.

“I am delighted at this news and Sylvia would have been too, she focused on all areas of women’s lives, not only achieving the vote.”

Publishing gender pay gap information is a new legal requirement this year for organisations with 250 employees or more. Mr Wayne said that the figures are of “limited value to assess if there are pay discrepancies or not.”

“We get no sense that there’s anything to worry about, but the results are, given our staff profile, what one would expect if there were not any inequalities.”

He suggested that next year’s report might include some sampling of easily comparable roles, such as care workers and caretakers, in order to “get a better feel” of the pay gap.

In comparison to other councils in London who have released their gender pay gap data, Islington has the second highest gender pay gap where women are paid more than men. Only Lewisham Council, with a pay gap of -15.8 per cent, pays women more.

In contrast, female employees at Hounslow Council are 7.3 per cent worse off than men and women working for Kingston-Upon-Thames Council are paid 5.2 per cent less.

Barnet and Hillingdon councils are the most equal payers – with a median pay gap of 0 per cent. In their report, Hillingdon Council said they achieved this by using “a nationally recognised job evaluation scheme, [which] harmonises its contracts in line with national pay structures and pays salaries according to band with incremental annual progression, irrespective of gender.”

Other London councils will be releasing their gender pay gap reports before the end of this month.

Islington has a long history of involvement in women’s rights. At Holloway Prison, Parkhurst road, Sylvia Pankhurst famously went on hunger strike to campaign for women’s right to vote. She was force-fed by the prison staff.