THE COUNCIL’S gender pay gap has gone down by almost one per cent in the last year, but there is still a 13.88 per cent difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across the authority.

The council employs 707 full-time staff, with another 451 hired on a part-time basis, and “a significantly higher proportion of females (47 per cent, 399 women) work part-time compared to males (17 per cent, 52 men).”

According to a report published by Heather Thwaites, the acting chief executive at Wokingham Borough Council (WBC), the authority regularly carries out pay and benefit audits, and evaluates job roles and pay grades as necessary “to ensure a fair structure”.

The report read: “We are… confident that our gender pay gap does not stem from paying men and women differently for the same or equivalent work. Rather our gender pay gap is the result of the roles in which men and women work within the organisation and the salaries that these roles attract.”

Louise Timlin, the Data Manager of the Reading branch of the Women’s Equality Party, told The News: “They make the same statement as last year that the difference in gender pay came down to the “roles in which men and women work within the organisation and the salaries that these roles attract, rather than paying men and women differently for the same work”.

“Gender pay gap is not the same as “equal pay” and for the second year in a row, they are missing an opportunity to look into why women are not successful in getting the top paying roles in the council.

“I would urge the council to work with their female employees and really understand the barriers that are preventing women from progressing to more senior roles. Only by addressing this and putting proactive measures in place will the council be able to address its gender pay gap.”

In the UK the average gender pay gap, which measures the difference between men and women’s average earnings across an organisation, stands at 17.9 per cent, meaning that WBC is below the standard national rate.

However, for full-time employees, the pay gap difference at the council stands at 12.27 per cent – almost four per cent higher than the UK average.

WBC was approached for comment following the publishing of its gender pay gap report, and in response, councillor Anthony Pollock, the executive member for finance, HR and corporate resources, said: “Our flexible working policies and opportunities for part-time working, particularly in lower pay quartile roles, make us an attractive employer to primary carers who in the main continue to be women. This won’t change unless there is a shift in society with more men taking on this type of role.

“Our Equality Action Plan, which is reviewed annually, makes sure our workplace is discrimination free for everyone.”

The gulf in bonus pay at Wokingham Borough Council (WBC) saw a significant reduction in the last year, with the figure now at 55.4 per cent, compared to 60 per cent in 2017.

WBC’s workforce is made up of almost three times more women than men, with 852 of the former and 306 of the latter working at the authority.

In Bracknell Forest Council (BFC), the gender pay gap is 16.2 per cent.