Unite the union has challenged veterinary employers to take immediate action to rectify the estimated 21 per cent pay disparity between male and female veterinary surgeons.

The union said it would fully support any member who has suffered gender pay inequality, if they took steps to challenge their employers. Up to six years of back pay, plus interest, could be recovered, if such a claim were successful.

Unite’s pledge follows a recent salary survey by The Society of Practising Veterinary Surgeons (SPVS), which showed female veterinary surgeons on average earn 21 per cent less than their male counterparts with the same amount of experience. This pay inequality starts as soon as veterinary surgeons qualify, with male vets being offered on average 11 per cent more in their first year at work.

Unite general secretary Sharon Graham said: “What the SPVS survey reveals is a glaring level of gender pay discrimination that is completely unacceptable half a century after the Equal Pay Act was passed.

“Unite will fully support its veterinary members in any claim for pay justice that they wish to pursue.”

The British Veterinary Union (BVU) wants to see employers take far more active steps to support women, such as:

  • increasing support after maternity leave; for instance, by offering flexible working from day one as a right
  • fashioning  targeted programmes to help women access promotion and career progression
  • and introducing compulsory equal pay audits.

BVU branch chair Suzanna Hudson-Cooke said: “Employers need to be aware that up to six years of back pay, plus interest, can be recovered, so there are severe financial penalties for foot dragging and obfuscation.

There is a national shortage of vets – more than 60 per cent are women – and the best way to address this shortfall is to make pay equal.”

Unite is dedicated to advancing the jobs, pay and conditions of its members and will fight back against any efforts to diminish workers' living standards.


Notes to editors:

SPVS is a veterinary organisation unaffiliated to Unite.  It surveyed 1,605 vets in 2021.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065.

Please note the numbers above are for journalists’ enquiries only.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1 Web: unitetheunion.org 

Unite is the leading union in the UK and Ireland, dedicated to defending and improving members' jobs, pay and conditions. The general secretary is Sharon Graham.