Salary Gender Gap Increases

By July 16, 2014HR Research
Employee Engagement

A recent Office for National Statistics report has indicated a widening salary gender gap for employees in their thirties and older, with female staff continuing to lose out. We take a look at the figures to see who’s winning and who’s losing the battle for fair pay.

Recent figures published by the Office for National Statistics have revealed that the more things have changed, the more they seem to have stayed the same… or at least, that’s the way it appears when it comes to the gender pay gap in the UK, as the average salary disparity between male and female employees grew in 2013 for the first time in five years.

The results have shown that for workers aged 16-30 the gender pay gap remains fairly static, but that when workers reach their late thirties and older the disparity rises suddenly, and by as much as 45%. Whilst this gap is significantly lower than the 61% observed back in 1975 it is still surprising to see it quite so high, and the backwards step on recent years is worrying. These figures imply that despite efforts at modernisation, the executive and higher paid positions in businesses are still predominantly held by men.

Women’s wages are impacted by considerations such as family, which can lead to extended career breaks, but as traditional gender roles are shifting and more and more women are prioritising career above the demands of childcare, this pay disparity would be expected to eventually dwindle. What has caused the reversal since 2008 is debatable, but TUC General Secretary Francis O’Grady pulled no punches in claiming that ”The light-touch, voluntary approach to tackling gender pay inequality is clearly failing. We need tougher action to force companies to look at their pay gaps, while government can lead the way by making all new jobs available on a part-time or flexible basis.”

The report also showed that workers’ wages were healthiest for those in their thirties, with those aged 38 recording the highest average salaries. This is compared to earnings reaching their peak for employees in their late twenties during the 1970s, which highlights a worrying trend exposed by the report as it is now actually younger people who are getting the worst deal when it comes to earnings.

Using wages adjusted for inflation, young workers (those in their twenties) are earning on average 12% less than they were in 2009, as salaries continue to rise with the older work force. As the Government works to curtail unemployment and get young people into work more will have to be done to make it worth their while to seek employment, and ease the strain on an already suffering benefits system.

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