THE local authority has said there is 'still work to be done' after revealing that on average, its male employees are paid almost 6% more than women.

Wirral Council has called the figure – 5.85% – 'very positive', as it is 'substantially below' the national average of 17.4% – but is still preparing an action plan in an attempt to further reduce the gap.

Cabinet member for children and families, Cllr Bernie Mooney, said: “As you can see, our gap is substantially lower than the national average.

"There is still work to be done but I’m very positive about the figures, along with our flexible working policies, our status as a Foundation Living Wage employer and the number of women in senior positions at the council.”

The statistics have been revealed in the Pay Policy Statement, which is to be discussed by full council on Monday.

It has shown that in total, 63.5% of the 3,800 staff at the council are female, with more women than men paid at higher rates.

That compares with the UK economy as a whole, where men in senior roles are more likely to be paid a higher rate than women in the same roles.

The report added that since 2008, the split at chief officer level has gone from five women and 24 men to 10 women and 12 men today.

Additionally, the percentage of staff in the top quarter of earners are 58% female to 42% male.

Publication of the figures came as thousands of employers across the country were told for the first time they must publish their gender pay gap figures, and they have until the end of the month to do so.

The new rule applies to organisations with more than 250 employees.

The council report said the 5.85% gap was not 'unlawful' or 'discriminating against women', but was 'about much broader influences'– the outcome of economic, cultural, societal and educational factors.

Cllr Mooney said: “Alongside publishing our pay figures, we’ve also prepared an action plan for how we can further reduce the gender pay gap.”

That will involve further analysis and 'detailed benchmarking' to identify actions that could address the gap.

Also revealed in the statement was the council’s ageing workforce – with more than 50% aged between 45 and 59.

It added that as a foundation living wage employer, its pay rates in the lower quarter of its workforce are 'comparatively higher' than national rates, narrowing the gap.