Press release

Gender pay gap at an all-time low

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The gender pay gap has reduced further, according to new statistics released today by the Office for National Statistics.

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The gender pay gap is now at its lowest point in history, with more women in work than ever before.

According to new statistics released today (19 November 2014) by the Office for National Statistics, the pay gap has reduced by 0.7 percentage points over the past year to 19.1%, and for those in full-time work the gender pay gap has reduced to almost zero for those under 40.

Minister for Women and Equalities Nicky Morgan said:

I am delighted that the gender pay gap has reduced to its lowest point in history. However, there is more to be done and the government will continue to work with industry to make sure it reduces even further.

Women are vital to the success of our long-term economic plan and we need to make the most of their skills at every age. We have more women in work than ever before, but businesses need to value diversity in their workforce and pay attention to the role of women in their organisations.

Minister for Women and Equalities and Business Jo Swinson said:

It’s good news to see a significant reduction in the pay gap over the last year. We should value the contribution of women and men in the workplace equally, so our vision has to be eliminating the pay gap completely.

The government will continue to tackle the causes of gender pay inequality. Shared Parental Leave will help to tackle the unequal split of caring responsibilities, and we are promoting pay transparency by making free pay analysis software available to employers.

One of the main causes of the gender pay gap is that men tend to work in better paid sectors to women. To help women move from low-paid, low-skilled work into higher paid, higher skilled work, the government has invested £2 million to fund a training and mentoring programme of events for women, including those working part-time and older workers, to be carried out by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills. It will target women working in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM), retail and hospitality management and agricultural sectors.

The government is also taking action to tackle a second cause of the pay gap - career breaks, often to raise a family. The government has extended flexible working to all employees, and from next year, tax-free childcare and shared parental leave will come into effect.

To tackle the cause of discrimination in the workplace, the government will make free software available to all UK companies from next year, which will enable companies to calculate their gender pay gap easily, and identify issues that may be preventing women from rising up in companies.

Guidance has also been published to help women to compare their salaries with their colleagues, and empower them to take on their bosses if they are being paid less than their male counterparts.

The government is also strengthening the Think, Act, Report initiative, launched in 2011 to encourage companies to use new tools and guidance to collect and publish data on 3 specific issues:

  • female representation at different levels within the company
  • the company’s overall gender pay gap
  • the gender pay gap broken down by grade and job type

A report published recently, ‘Think, Act, Report: mending the gap’, shows that over the last 3 years, 260 companies, with a combined total of 2.5 million employees have signed up, including Marks and Spencer, Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, and Glaxo SmithKline.

Notes to editors

  1. Today’s ONS statistics show that the overall gender pay gap has fallen to 19.1% - this includes all full- and part-time workers combined and reflects the fact that around 40% of women work part time. This is typically the figure used for comparison. Today’s statistics also show that the gender pay gap for full time workers only has reduced by 0.6 percentage points to 9.4%.
  2. Further details on government policies announced in November are available here: Government announces £2 million fund to help close gender pay gap.
  3. Further details on Think, Act, Report are available here: Creating a fairer and more equal society.
  4. The government has taken action to address some of the major causes of the gender pay gap:
    • women are concentrated in less well paid professions than men
    • women get less far up the ladder in those professions - especially after career breaks
    • women are sometimes less well paid when they are in similar positions to men
  5. The ONS calculates the gender pay gap by analysing the median average pay of employees. The median is the preferred measure of average when looking at earnings. It is less skewed by a small number of people who are very high earners, and therefore more representative of the average persons experience.
  6. The gender pay gap compares the average hourly earnings of men and women without taking into account such things as the proportions in different occupations and their length of time in jobs. Therefore it does not directly compare the salaries of men and women doing identical jobs.
  7. For the first time, the pay has been calculated including all employees earning less than £111 a week. Previously some of these employees were not included. For more information please see: ‘Annual survey of hours and earnings, 2014 provisional results’.

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Published 19 November 2014