The gap between women and men earning over £100,000 a year in the UK has widened by 23 per cent over the five years, new research has revealed.
Law firm Wilsons publishes a report today showing that there are now 470,500 fewer women earning more than £100,000 than men across the country. The figure was around 383,400 in the financial year 2010/11. While 625,600 men now earn over £100,000 only 155,100 women do.
Wilsons said that the widening gulf could be partially attributable to regulation around maternity, paternity and parental pay.
The firm explained that the first six weeks of statutory maternity leave offer greater financial benefits than either of the paternity or parental leave entitlements that are available to men. That means that for a household, it often makes more financial sense for mothers to take leave.
Under new legislation that came into effect in 2015, both parents can share up to 39 weeks of leave that was previously only available to mothers.
Mothers currently benefit from the first six weeks of leave being paid at 90 per cent of their normal earnings, while fathers’ statutory entitlements to parental pay are capped at £140.98 a week.
“In order to achieve a level playing field, more needs to be done to ensure new mothers don’t fall behind on the career ladder as a consequence of taking maternity leave,” Stephen Oxley, a partner at Wilsons, said.
He said that businesses were in future likely to come under increased pressure to address issues around gender pay gaps.
From April this year, all companies in the UK employing at least 250 people will have to publicly disclose their gender pay gap for different levels of compensation.
Mr Oxley said that changes within companies to ensure a more “level playing field” would not be easy to implement, but would likely pay off.
“The widening gender pay gap raises concerns for businesses, which could miss out from a lack of talented women in their top tiers of management,” he said.
Mr Oxley added that while the gender pay gap is particularly pronounced among older and high earning employees, the situation looks more promising for younger generations.
“There are signs that the gap is slowly closing for millennials in graduate and mid-level jobs across all sectors,” he said.
A report published last week by McKinsey & Co found that a business is likely to perform better financially if its workforce is more diverse – both in terms of gender and ethnicity.
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