Gender pay gap widens for full-time UK workers amid ‘dismally slow’ progress

Women working full-time are paid 8.9 per cent less than men, up from 8.6 per cent in 2018

Ben Chapman
Tuesday 29 October 2019 14:05
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The gender pay gap explained

The gender pay gap for full-time workers in the UK has increased, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed on Tuesday.

Women working full-time are paid 8.9 per cent less than men, up from 8.6 per cent in 2018. Stubbornly large pay discrepancies remain among older workers, with a gap of 15 per cent between men and women aged 50 and over. However, the gender pay gap for full-time workers aged under 40 fell “close to zero”.

The difference in older age groups is partly a result of women being underrepresented in high-paying management positions, and more likely to be found in part-time roles, the ONS said.

The overall gender pay gap – which includes part-time workers – is almost double the gap for full-time work. It narrowed marginally to 17.3 per cent from 17.8 per cent last year.

The ONS stressed that the data compares the average earnings of male and female workers in all jobs – it does not show differences in pay between men and women in the same, or comparable, jobs.

Responding to the latest figures, Frances O’Grady, the Trades Union Congress general secretary, said it would take “decades” to close the gender pay gap at the current rate.

She said: “Government must pick up the pace. It’s clear that publishing gender pay gaps isn’t enough on its own.

“Companies must also be legally required to explain how they’ll close them.”

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Progress to close the gender pay gap is dismally slow and at this rate it will take 60 years to eradicate it.

“Too many women are trapped in low-paid part-time work or locked out of non-traditional sectors while others experience pay or pregnancy discrimination.”

The figures also show that median weekly earnings are still 2.9 per cent below the peak reached in 2008, when adjusted for inflation.

The number of full-time employees who saw their pay cut in real terms fell from 43.3 per cent in 2018 to 35.7 per cent in 2019, the report said.

“The level of earnings for employees are the single most important determinant of household incomes and material living standard for most people in the UK,” said Jonathan Cribb, senior research economist at the IFS.

“That is why no real growth in 11 years for average earnings is such an important trend.”

Some groups have done much worse than the average, such as low-paid men, people in their 30s and Londoners, Mr Cribb said.

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