Full-time gender pay gap closes to 8.6%

Employer and government efforts to close the gap in men and women’s hourly earnings were rewarded today as new figures suggest the difference has closed.

Image of UK currency and small figures sitting on piles of coins
The differential between the median gross hourly earnings of men and women in full-time employment has closed to 8.6% this year from 9.1% in 2017.Overall, the gap among all employees is much higher and remains at 17.9%, down from 18.4% in April 2017. This is because more women work in part-time jobs, which tend to be lower paid, despite women’s average hourly rate being 5.1% higher than men’s for this type of work.
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Why is there a gender pay gap?

The prevalence of women in part-time employment has been cited alongside unconscious bias and a lack of career paths and role models as a key factor in the challenges organisations face achieving government-backed targets to move more women into board-level roles.Today’s figures, while suggesting some progress, also expose the impact of factors like tenure, sector and average pay increases on the gender pay gap.The ONS analysis finds that since 1997, the gender pay gap has closed most markedly for people aged 40-49. The gender pay gap for full-time employees is also now close to zero for those aged between 18-39. 
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Who is losing out on equal pay?

However, the news is less good for others. Full-time London-based employees have seen no movement in their hourly pay gap. Women in skilled trades face the widest difference in pay and people working in the public sector have seen progress slip back.Responding to today's gender pay data, Sam Smethers, chief executive of charity and campaigner for equality and women's rights, the Fawcett Society, said: “This is a practically static picture on pay inequality. This slow rate of progress means without significant action women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men. “It’s a loss they can’t afford and it’s a missed opportunity for our economy. Improving our performance on gender equality in the workplace could increase GDP by £150 billion.”

'Still much more to do'

This chimes with the warning in June from the Hampton-Alexander Review, which saw Sir Philip Hampton, its chair acknowledge, "Far too many companies still have no women – or only one woman – on their board."While applauding "those businesses who have made great strides" in the latest Hampton-Alexander Review, business minister Andrew Griffiths called on others to prioritise their commitment to tackling gender inequality: "It is clear there is still a long way to go and I urge businesses to keep stepping up and championing diversity." 

Head to the Human Resources section for more news and insight. 

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