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East Herts Council struggles to close gender pay gap




East Herts Council is struggling to close the gender pay gap – because it employs so many lower-paid women.

In 2017, the Government introduced legislation that made it statutory for organisations with 250 or more employees to report on their gender pay gap by March 30, 2018, and annually thereafter.

The gender – or, more accurately, sex – pay gap is a measure of the difference between men's and women's average earnings across an organisation, expressed as a percentage of male earnings.

Richard Cassidy, East Herts Council's chief executive
Richard Cassidy, East Herts Council's chief executive

A report presented to the council's human resources committee on Tuesday evening (Feb 16) confirms East Herts' mean (average) gender pay gap is 15% and the median (middle) gap is 19%.

The authority split its workforce into quarters by hourly pay to arrive at the overall figures. The top earners are 56% female and 44% male and the lowest paid are 17% male and 83% female.

The report says: "The council is in an unusual position in that the gender pay gap is not due to fewer women working in more senior roles than men but because at the lower grades there is a much higher percentage of women than men.

East Herts Council's elected leader, Cllr Linda Haysey
East Herts Council's elected leader, Cllr Linda Haysey

"The council remains committed to trying to reduce the gap but this is an ongoing challenge due to the gender dominance in certain occupation groups."

The situation is exacerbated by the outsourcing of contracts for refuse collection and maintenance – typically male-dominated occupations – which further skews the low pay figures.

The mean gender gap has remained the same as in 2019 and the median difference has fallen by 2% from 2019. There has been an increase in men at the council since last year's report – from 90 to 102 – whereas the number of women has remained the same at 246.

The report says: "There is an increase in men at some of the lower grades, which has caused the mid-point to come close to the mid-point for women. This is good news and reflects some of the changes we have implemented to increase the number of men across the lower grades.

East Herts Council offices at Charringtons House, Bishops Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (44465662)
East Herts Council offices at Charringtons House, Bishops Stortford. Picture: Vikki Lince (44465662)

"However, as the number of men employed by the council overall is low, the numbers have only changed marginally, but this has affected the median due to the small sample size."

All jobs at EHC are put through a 'Hay' evaluation scheme to ensure the right grade and pay is given to roles.

The council has introduced new interviewing techniques and employed a new equalities officer to ensure there is no sex bias in its recruitment processes.



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