Academy trusts and schools will be required to publish the pay gap between men and women if they employ more than 250 workers the government revealed this week.
On Tuesday, prime minister David Cameron announced that all businesses with more than 250 employees will have to publish the difference in average pay between male and female workers.
This will affect many academy trusts, who directly employ staff across multiple schools. Foundation or maintained schools with large staff rolls could also be included.
Women employees in the UK are paid almost 20 per cent less than men. Education secretary Nicky Morgan, whose brief includes equalities, said: “That is why we are committing to eliminating the gender pay gap in a generation.
“This is not just the right thing to do, it makes good business sense: supporting women to fulfil their potential could increase the size of our economy by 35 per cent.”
The government is consulting on the gender pay audits and members of the public are invited to make representations. It will close in September.
In the consultation, respondents are asked to give views on how frequent the audits should be and what type of information should be supplied (that is, overall or differences in full and part-time staff) and where or if it should be published publicly on a website.
The schools sector has a smaller than average pay gap, analysis by Schools Week has shown.
The greatest difference is in leadership positions with an average 8 per cent difference between male and female senior leaders.
The gap increases in primary academies where men are, on average, paid £55,000 and women £49,000 – a difference of 11 per cent.
For classroom teachers the gap is smaller again, with men earning 3 per cent more than women.
But in primary academies, women classroom teachers are paid, on average, 7 per cent more than their male counterparts.
Concerns have been flagged by teaching unions that the decision to move teachers’ pay to a fully performance-related scale, rather than one that automatically increased with experience, may cause this gap to increase.
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said: “A recent survey of ATL members showed that women fared worse under the performance-related pay system.
“The average salary for a female teacher is £2,900 lower than that of a male teacher. The only way that we can address the difference is for there to be more transparency over pay. The information should not be difficult to compile.
“ATL has called for schools to undertake equality audits of the decisions made on pay to highlight any difference in pay in relation to gender or any other protected characteristic in accordance with the Equality Act 2010.”