Taking action in higher education


Equal pay audits

Equal pay audits are a useful tool at looking at pay and promotion of women, black members and disabled members. UCU wants employers to undertake equal pay audits at least every two years and to develop an action plan based on the results of the audit.

Although equal pay legislation has been in place for over 40 years, the gender pay gap in Britain remains among the highest in the European Union of 16.4%. The gap between women and men for full-time work is equivalent to men being paid all year round, while women work for free after 2 November (Fawcett Society). There are many reasons why the gender pay gap exists including discrimination against women in the workplace, the value placed on work predominantly undertaken by women, interrupted careers and more women being in part-time and low paid jobs.

Equal pay audits will:

  • establish whether there are pay inequities arising because of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation, religion or belief, and age; and/or from differing contractual arrangements
  • analyse in more detail the nature of any inequities
  • analyse the factors creating inequities and diagnose the cause or causes
  • determine what action is required to deal with any unjustified inequities revealed by the analysis and diagnosis.

This will

  • Highlight areas for concern relating to equal pay
  • enable causes of inequality to be diagnosed
  • guide higher education institutions on the actions required to fulfil both their ethical and their legal obligations to pay those carrying out work of equal value equally
  • contribute to the development and maintenance of a fair and equitable reward system, and thereby enhance the image of the institution as an employer, improve the climate of employee relations and further the ability of the institution to attract and retain the staff it requires
  • help institutions to meet their statutory obligation to promote equal pay (under the gender equality duty)
  • enable institutions to demonstrate progress in relation to providing equal pay and equal opportunity across the workforce.

UCU has recently participated in a joint working party which looked at equal pay in higher education. The report contains a number of recommendations and case studies which branches may find useful. The report and UCU's response can be found here:

Last updated: 16 May 2016