Women, Catholics and disabled staff in the Northern Ireland civil service are paid at least 7% less on average than their male, Protestant or non-disabled counterparts, according to a new report.
The gender gap is partly due to more men working in better paid jobs, according to the latest report from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency on NICS wages. He gives the same reason for the income gap between Catholic and Protestant staff, but acknowledges that missing information means data on staff with disabilities should be treated with caution.
The agency said the median salary of female NICS staff was 7.4% lower than the amount male staff received – £26,575 compared to £28,706. We find the same gap of 7.4% between Catholic staff and Protestant civil servants, and for disabled staff compared to those who did not declare a disability.
The NISRA information was based on a snapshot of NICS staff at the end of March.
Gap between genders and religions “due to differences in level”
The gender pay gap was 6.4% in 2019 and 2020, but it increased to 7.4% in 2021 and has not changed this year.
NISRA said the main reason for the gap was that “the majority of women are in lower paid categories…compared to the majority of men who are in higher paid categories”.
About 52% of women are in the EOI pay grade, while about 53% of men are in the highest EOII pay grade.
The largest pay gap was in the ‘Other’ category – those not on the NICS pay scales, the majority of whom are prison staff – where there is an 11.9% difference in favor of men.
But the report also found several gaps in favor of women: at “industry level 1” (5.5%) and smaller gaps at the higher levels of permanent secretary (2.3%) and G3 (1.9%) .
“Differences of this type can result from a range of factors, including the length of time staff are in their rank, the differing proportions of men and women across ranks, and the general profile of NICS staff,” indicates the report.
The report gave the same explanation for the current 7.4% difference in median salary between Catholics and Protestants that it gave for the gender gap: a majority of Catholics are in the EOI and most Protestants are in the EOII.
The largest wage gap in favor of Protestants is found in the Other category (7.3%). The report also found gaps in the highest pay grades – permanent secretaries (4.4%), G3 (5.5%) and G5 (1.1%). No shortcomings were found in the other levels.
In 2019, Catholics received on average the same salary as Protestants, but there was a gap of 6.4% in 2020 and 7.4% in 2021.
Disability data “missing”
The report was less clear on the reasons for the variation in pay for disabled and non-disabled staff. He said the data was based on incomplete information and was likely not representative of the actual number of employees with disabilities.
“Again, it is worth emphasizing that median differences of this type can result from a complex range of factors,” the report says.
“It should be noted that disability information is lacking for a large proportion of NICS staff. Any staff member for whom this information is missing has been assigned to the “No declared disability” category. The actual proportion of disabled staff is therefore likely to be higher than that recorded.