Gender pay gaps at more than 500 large companies have been revealed under rules put in place by the Government.
All companies with 250 or more workers must publish details of the salary difference between male and female employees by 4th April and so far 527 firms have done so.
Thousands of other companies, public sector bodies and other large organisations are expected to publish their own data in the next few months.
The data covers the gender pay gap which is the discrepancy between the average wage earned by men and women at a company regardless of their position.
This is different from equal pay, which is a legal requirement that men and women be paid the same amount for equal roles.
Ladbrokes, Easyjet and Virgin Money are among the major companies to reveal gender pay gaps of more than 15 per cent in favour of men for mean hourly pay.
The firm to publish the biggest gender pay gap so far is women’s fashion chain Phase Eight – with a 64.8 per cent lower mean hourly rate for female staff.
Firms paying women significantly more to women include mattress retailer Sweet Dreams – which said women were paid 46.4 per cent more – and nursery business Yellow Dot, where women’s hourly rate is 35.4 per cent more.
Employers with low or no gender pay gaps include the British Museum (0 per cent) and the armed forces (0.9 per cent).
Women’s hourly pay rates are 52 per cent lower than men’s at Easyjet.
The airline, which has been voluntarily reporting on its pay gap since 2015, says the reason for the difference in hourly rate is because its best paid staff tend to be male pilots, while lower paid cabin crew are more often women.
A statement on its website says:
“EasyJet’s gender pay gap is strongly influenced by the salaries and gender make-up of its pilot community, which make up over a quarter of its UK employees.“Pilots are predominantly male and their higher salaries, relative to other employees, significantly increases the average male pay at easyJet
The carrier said it had set a target that one in five of new entrant pilots should be female by 2020.
Phase Eight’s chief executive Benjamin Barnett said the figure did not reflect the “true story” of the business, since most male employees worked in head office roles rather than in shops.
A statement on the Phase Eight website said:
“The figures result from the fact that, as a women’s fashion retailer, the staff in our stores are overwhelmingly female, whilst our corporate head office staff (whose pay rates are typically higher) are more evenly split between men and women.
“We are confident that women and men are paid equally for doing the equivalent jobs across our business.”
Many of the firms in the top 20 in terms of those with biggest gaps are in financial services, including Virgin Money (32.5 per cent), PriceWaterhouseCoopers (33.1 per cent) and asset management firm Octopus Capital (38.1 per cent).
Virgin Money says on its website:
“We are passionate about fairness, equality and inclusion and are committed to reducing our gender pay gap. We are confident that men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs across our business.”
In their report, Virgin Money said their gap had decreased and added: “We are confident that men and women are paid equally for doing equivalent jobs across our business.” Their aim is to achieve a 50/50 pay gap balance by 2020.
“Our analysis of our gender pay gap shows that it is largely driven by the fact that there are more men in senior higher-paid roles within the business. We continue to take action to address any gaps and to make sure our policies and practices are fair.”
Cambridgeshire Police had a gender pay gap of 12.9 per cent higher for women and Unilever UK was also 8.8 per cent higher for women.
Public sector bodies that show a wide divergence in pay per hour include the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham (men paid 34.8 per cent more than women), and the Office for Nuclear Regulation (32.9 per cent).