THE pay gap between men and women working with Scottish Borders Council - where 70 per cent of the non-teaching workforce of 4,600 is female – is narrowing, councillors have been told.

Following recent reports that the council has still to settle 46 historic equal pay claims, Councillor Simon Mountford, executive member for human resources, said the gender pay gap was 11.9 per cent in April this year – down from 13 per cent two years ago.

“We are committed to reducing this further,” he told last week’s full council meeting. “I am sure the council has enshrined the principle of equal pay for equal work.”

Mr Mountford said factors contributing to the pay gap included a lack of flexible working opportunities, which disadvantaged women who were the main care providers, and “occupational segregation”.

“The council has a comprehensive flexible working policy which allows employees to request a range of flexible working practices,” he said.

“These are considered favourably, subject to service requirements.

“We are also addressing the issue of occupational segregation through mandatory equality and diversity training for all employees.

“I am pleased to report that 52.94 per cent of the highest paid two per cent and 45.14 per cent of the highest paid five per cent of employees are women. Both of these figures have seen a consistent increase over the last three years.”

Mr Mountford said the council had now made increased offers to settle 40 of the outstanding equal pay claims.

“The exceptions are six cases in which the particular circumstances of the claim mean it is inappropriate to make an offer,” he added.