Oil giant Royal Dutch Shell says male staff working for the company on average earn 22% more than women.

Shell says that despite this, it is confident it pays equally for equal work, and the difference in pay rates is because of a skills gap, rather than sex discrimination.

The UK's biggest company is the latest to report its gender pay gap.

The government now requires bodies with more than 250 employees to publish gender pay gap figures every year.

The data will eventually be available on a government database in an attempt to tackle workplace discrimination.

The median UK gender pay gap was 9.1% for the year to April for full-time workers, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The figure has almost halved since the ONS first started collecting figures on the gap in 1997.

Shell UK's chairman, Sinead Lynch, said the two main reasons for the gender pay gap were "fewer women in senior leadership positions, and fewer women working in technical or trading roles that attract higher levels of pay".

Shell, which is the largest firm on the UK's FTSE 100 index, says it struggles to attract as many men as women into technical roles which typically pay more.

In a Youtube video posted on Thursday, the company explains that it cannot recruit enough highly skilled female staff as there is an industry-wide shortage.

It says that only 16% of engineering graduates in the UK are women.

Equal pay

Shell UK said it was making progress addressing this representation gap.

The percentage of women in senior management roles had risen from 12% to 27% between 2005 and 2017, the firm said.

A traditional skills imbalance was the argument used by the Bank of England, when it revealed last week its male staff were paid almost a quarter more than female employees.

Its median pay gap – based on the midpoints in the ranges of hourly earnings for men and women at the Bank – was 24.2% for the year to 30 March.

It, too, said it was confident men and women were paid equally for doing the same jobs at the Bank, and said it had taken steps to address the issue.

Large UK companies have until April next year to publish their gender pay gaps, but the vast majority are yet to report them.

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