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Advancing equality and diversity in universities and colleges


Equal pay

Equal pay is about ensuring people with different protected characteristics are paid the same for like work, work rated as equivalent (under a job evaluation system), or work of equal value.

A pay gap is the percentage difference in pay between different groups of workers. Most commonly the groups compared are men and women, although pay gaps can exist for other protected groups such as disabled and minority ethnic staff.

The New Joint Negotiating Committee for Higher Education Staff (JNCHES) provides guidance on pay and pay related issues in the HE sector, including on pay equality.

ECU provides guidance on the public sector equality duty, including guidance on reporting on the gender pay gap in England, Scotland and Wales. We will also be providing guidance on forthcoming legislation in Northern Ireland.

Gender pay gap in figures >
  • 13.7% the overall median gender pay gap in HE in 2014/15
  • 18.3% the overall mean gender pay gap in HE in 2014/15

There is a persistent gender pay gap in higher education, as in many other sectors.

Across both academic and professional support roles, mean and median salaries are higher from men than women

Source: ECU (2016) Equality in higher education: staff statistical report

Ethnicity pay gap in figures >
  • 2.4% the overall median ethnicity pay gap in HE in 2014/15
  • 2.2% the overall mean ethnicity pay gap in HE in 2014/15

The ethnicity pay gap refers to the difference between pay for white staff, and that for Black and minority ethnic staff as an aggregated group.

Source: ECU (2016) Equality in higher education: staff statistical report

Disability pay gap in figures >
  • 3.9% the overall median disability pay gap in HE in 2014/15
  • 6.9% the overall mean disability pay gap in HE in 2014/15

The disability pay gap refers to the difference between pay for non-disabled staff and disabled staff.

Source: ECU (2016) Equality in higher education: staff statistical report

Key recommendations >
  • Enhance current practice in data gathering, analysis and reporting of occupational segregation and pay gaps and using this to inform and plan action.
  • Extend training on equality and diversity with a focus on occupational segregation, unconscious bias, reasonable adjustments and dignity and respect.
  • Experiment in recruitment and selection and use positive action to increase staff diversity.
  • Ensure the same terms and conditions, including pay and reward structures, holiday entitlements, are enjoyed by all staff.
  • Promote awareness and ensure availability of reasonable adjustments, including flexible working, to all staff.
  • Develop and map career pathways for professional services and support staff and use review processes and training and career development as positive action measures.
Recommendations for pay gap analysis and reporting >
  • Include all staff in pay data and occupational segregation gathering and analysis (eg apprentices, zero-hours contract staff, professors, senior staff).
  • Provide training and support for staff undertaking pay reviews and undertaking occupational segregation analyses.
  • Present both mean and median pay gaps to help identify where there may be something happening at either end of the pay ranges.
  • Include commentary and analysis on the causes and consequences of pay gaps and occupational segregation (vertical and horizontal) in key statements and reports.
  • Move from data gathering and analysis to specific and sustained activity to effect positive changes.
Further useful resources >