Gender Pay Gaps in the UK

The phrase Gender Pay Gap refers to the average difference between the earnings of men and the earnings of women in one particular state or industry sector. This can be reported as raw unadjusted figures, or it can be reported as adjusted figures which take into account certain unavoidable factors. These factors include the lower earnings which are received whilst a woman is on maternity leave and fact that women often work fewer hours as they are primary care givers. However, even when these external factors are adjusted for, it is still possible to see the existence of a gender pay gap in the United Kingdom. As of 2017, Britain still has the fifth largest gender pay gap in the European Union.

New figures have shown that the gender pay gap in the UK has fallen to its lowest level ever, however there is still a gap of around 9% between men and women. This has fallen from a rate of just over 17% in 1994, when record keeping began. If the gap continues to narrow at a similar rate, it may still be decades before the adjusted gender pay gap in the United Kingdom is completely closed.

One of the main factors affecting the gender pay gap in the UK is occupational segregation. Women are less likely to be employed in managerial roles or high-paying professional roles. The number of men who are employed in these roles has helped to keep the average pay gap higher. These roles are also more likely to have received pay rises in the last couple of years, compared to many of the roles which are paying minimum wage or living wage.

Figures from a separate study which was conducted by the Chartered Institute of Management also suggest that women in managerial roles are paid an average of £12000 less than men, per annum. This takes into account all of the benefits and salary perks (such as car users allowance) which are also offered to management level staff. Some studies into the gender pay gap do not count bonuses and salary perks, and there have been a number of cases where contractual benefits have been used as a way of circumnavigating pay equality rules.

Data from the UK shows that there are certain industries where the pay gap is much larger than the national average. A pay gap of over 30% exists amongst full-time adult workers employed in town planning, vehicle assembly and music. Huge pay gaps can also be seen in other industries, such as the media. Recent revelations from the BBC show that male TV stars and radio personalities are routinely paid thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of pounds more than their female counterparts. Data from other media organisations and from the film industry suggest that men are valued more highly in media roles where contract negotiations are required. The differences are not as overt in media roles which follow a set pay grade and are not subject to regular renegotiations. A similar effect can also be seen when looking at sports prize money. Prize money in male events is normally worth tens of thousands of pounds more than it is in women’s events.

Further analysis of the gender pay gap in the UK appears to suggest that they gap is also affected by age, with a generational sliding scale. Women between the ages of 55 – 65 experience a gender pay gap which is around three times more significant than women between the ages of 25 – 35. It remains to be seen as to whether the smaller gap will propagate through the system as the women who are currently 25 – 35 continue to age.

New legislation which is coming into force in 2018 means that all companies which employ more than 250 people will be required to publish their gender pay figures. These figures should also include any bonus payments that were awarded to staff members outside of their normal pay arrangement. It is hoped that this legislation will make company pay structures more transparent and will empower more people to challenge irregularities. It is also hoped that this will encourage companies to be more mindful about the amount that their pay their employees.

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