Civil service equal pay wait 64 years and counting

05 Mar 2019

Women in the civil service have been waiting for 64 years for the equal pay they were promised. As we build up to International Women’s Day and the PCS pay ballot it’s more important than ever to get involved in the PCS pay campaign to close the gender pay gap.

On 25 January, 1955, Tory chancellor of the Exchequer Rab Butler pledged that there would be pay equality in the ‘non-industrial’ civil service by 1 January 1961, but decades later across the civil service women are paid 12.2% less than men, and this gender pay gap must end.

As the Guardian reported in December the gender pay gap has widened at nearly a third of government departments over the past 12 months, despite pledges to reduce the difference in earnings between male and female civil servants. 18 government departments posted their gender pay gap results for 2018 in December.

Under the rules, which came into force in April last year, 5 of the departments reported a larger gender pay gap, meaning the average difference in what they pay men and women increased in the 12 months to April 2018.

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Department for Exiting the European Union, Department for International Development, Department for International Trade and HM Treasury all reported a growth in the median gap in what they pay men and women.

The overall median gender pay gap for the civil service narrowed by 0.5 percentage points from 12.7% in 2017 to 12.2%.

The biggest rise in unequal pay was reported by the DCMS where the median gap nearly trebled from 8.2% to 22.9% in 2018. The figures showed that for every £1 paid to a man in the department a woman was paid 77p.

Low pay must be tackled urgently

Equal pay for equal work is an important part of the PCS pay claim. There is a gender pay gap because there are fewer women in senior jobs and because there are more women in lower paid grades, in lower paid departments.

Average pay in DWP and HMRC is lower than average pay for the civil service. Women are in the majority in these departments and, together, they employ 40% of all women in the civil service. Administrative officers in DWP and HMRC are some of the lowest paid in the civil service, and two thirds of them are women. This means that until low pay is improved in these departments the gender pay gap will continue.

PCS has submitted a claim for a 10% pay increase for the UK civil service and related bodies. In the civil service there are hundreds of different pay systems, and some departments pay less than others. We want to eliminate low pay, to stop departments paying less than others, by introducing national pay negotiations and fair pay progression.  

Are you a PCS member paid less than a male colleague for doing the same job? Tell us your experience, email We may use your story in our pay campaign materials on and offline.

What you can do

Help us close the gender pay gap and deliver pay justice for low-paid women in the civil service.

Volunteer for the PCS pay campaign to help fight for equal pay and email civil service CEO John Manzoni to urge him to act on pay and end years of pay restraint without ripping up your terms and conditions. So far, he has told us there is only 1% available to fund pay rises this year, so we have declared a ballot for strike action, which opens on 18 March.

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