Tops Gender Pay Gap Report

Executive Summary

The Early Years Sector have historically been female dominated; the UK statistics in 2020 being 96% female and 4% male. The EY workforce has been highlighted as low pay throughout the sector, with the average wage being reported as £7.42 per hour, similar to the retail sector (£7.09), significantly lower than average pay for the female workforce (£11.37) and the overall working population (£12.57). The main reasons for wages being kept low within the sector have been linked to government policies such as the national minimum/living wage and nursery funding, for 3 main reasons; the funding rate is too low to cover nursery costs, local authorities failing to communicate when funding payments will arrive or not notifying providers of funding rates for the new financial year with enough notice, and local authorities suddenly making underpayments or overpayments in different months. (Social Mobility Commission, 2020)

This has meant establishing career opportunities and respected training has been a challenge, which has restricted the whole sector’s ability to encourage male participation in the sector, including the previously outdated negative perception of male’s working in the early years sector. The company works hard to fight this stereotyping (Tops Day Nurseries, 2019) promote professionalism in the sector, and campaign for better funding (Tops Day Nurseries, no date).

Tops Day Nurseries, as of the snapshot date of 5th April, is 93% Female and 7% Male with the average wage at £9.30 per hour, both higher than the UK average within the EY sector.  Norway has the highest percentage of male Early Years professionals in the world (9%) with a national target of 20% male participation.  There is no formal target set within the UK, other than to increase males working within the Early Years Sector through the Men in the Early Years (MITEY) campaign supported by the department of education. (Nursery World, no date).

The Founder and Managing Director is female and the board 67% female, with senior management being 93% female and 7% male, and management being 89% female and 11% male.  The results show that males are paid more per hour than females in the company, this is due to males being employed in management roles, and more males being employed in technical roles (maintenance, accountancy, legal and IT positions where hourly pay in the sector is higher than in early years).

The Pay Gap

  Difference between Men and Women  
  Hourly Fixed Pay  5.9%    -5.4%

The table above shows our overall mean and median gender pay gap in hourly rates of pay as of the snapshot date, 5th April 2021.

The Bonus Pay Gap

  Difference between Men and Women  
Average Bonus Payments£619.30£216.08
% Paid a bonus4%10%
Mean Bonus Gap8.22%

Bonus payments made to those eligible are subject to meeting specific performance criteria, therefore this would indicate that at least one of the males eligible for bonus payments has performed better in these specific areas to achieve a higher bonus payment.

Pay Quartiles

The above charts display the gender distribution at Tops Day Nurseries across four equally sized quartiles, each made up of 107 colleagues, showing a predominantly female workforce (orange) to male (green).

The Background:

This report used a total of 428 full-pay relevant employees (752 relevant employees) as of the snapshot date 5th April 2021; 396 are Female (698 relevant) and 32 Male (54 relevant). As mentioned in the executive summary, as of the snapshot date Tops Day Nurseries had a workforce of 93% Female and 7% Male. 

The ONS has reported that the median gender pay gap within the UK for full-time employees was 7.9% in 2021 with the pay gap for Child and early years officers being reported as -4% (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2021), as shown under the Gender Pay Gap section previously in this report the median gender pay gap within Tops based on full-time employees is -5.4% therefore considerably better than the UK median.

The gender pay gap figures include employees based at The Hub (i.e. senior management and board members) that due to their professions (law, accountancy, maintenance, HR) can earn higher salaries than early years workers and this is where the majority of our male workers are based, therefore this is why we see a higher percentage of males in the ‘Upper Quartile’.  Pay for early years workers is hampered by inadequate government & local authority funding for childcare education and care to both day nurseries (Early Years Alliance (EYA), 2018) and parents, and this impacts particularly harshly in deprived areas, where some of our nurseries are located.

Our Commitment:

Tops Day Nurseries continuously produce recruitment marketing campaigns to attract all genders to join our organisation and develop careers within the Early Years sector.

We believe it’s important for children to be cared for by both female and male practitioners, as male care-givers can offer a different set of skills and experiences to children that positively boost their development; many studies have shown there are significant positive effects male practitioners have on their key-children’s development (Brandth & Kvande, 1998).

In 2008, Tops Day Nurseries produced an informative DVD of the benefits of ‘Men in Childcare’, in partnership with ‘The Children’s Workforce Development Council’, who were supporting us researching and developing a project aimed at encouraging men into the Early Years/Childcare workforce, the results of the research reflected that a higher income, career and training opportunities were very important to potential male applicants and a perceived lack of these in early years was deterring males, in particular, from applying to work in the sector, along with cultural perceptions of men who worked with children.

In our Spring/Summer 2017 edition of our Tops Day Nurseries Magazine, we have written an article further identifying the benefits of male practitioners within the Childcare industry and the careers available within our company specifically, whilst also addressing our commitment to addressing the gap in male employment within our business and the sector as a whole.

Tops is signed up to the MITEY (Men in The Early Years) Charter, which is a national network and campaign to pledge to show support in valuing men and their contribution to the care and education for young children. In 2019 the company established its own MITEY group in order to actively promote and create opportunity for male colleagues to embed strategies and ideas the company can implement in order to promote males not only within Tops but across the entire Early Years Sector.

We endeavour to ensure all colleagues, regardless of gender and other characteristics, are provided with equal pay earnings, equal career advancement and training opportunities with Tops Day Nurseries (and relevant legal entities) and will continue to advance the ways we market ourselves to attract all suitable applicants in our local communities.  Strong leadership and belief in the benefits of a mixed-gender workforce is important to Tops Day Nurseries.

Charlotte Percival

HR Director

5th April 2021


Brandth & Kvande, 1998, Masculinity and Child Care: The Reconstruction of Fathering accessed 18/03/2022

EYA (2021), Freedom of information investigation findings from DfE viewed 15/03/2022

Nursery World, 2020, Nursery Management: International – Men of the world 2020 viewed 15/03/2022

Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2021, Gender pay gap in the UK: 2021 viewed 15/03/2022

Social Mobility Commission, 2020, The stability of the early years workforce in England 2020  viewed 15/03/2022

Tops Day Nurseries, 2019, Men in Early Years 2019  viewed 15/03/2022

Tops Day Nurseries, no date, Our fight for fairer funding  viewed 15/03/2022

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