News story

UK gender pay gap

The UK gender pay gap is at its lowest level ever. This government is committed to ensuring the gap is eliminated in a generation.

The gender pay gap is an equality measure that shows the difference in average earnings between women and men.

The UK gender pay gap is at its lowest level ever – just over 18%.

The gender pay gap does not show differences in pay for comparable jobs. Unequal pay for men and women has been illegal for 45 years.

What are the causes of the gender pay gap?

The causes of the gender pay gap are complex and overlapping.

A higher proportion of women choose occupations that offer less financial reward for example, in administration. Many high-paying sectors are disproportionately made up of male workers, for example, information and communications technology.

A much higher proportion of women work part-time, and part-time workers earn less than their full-time counterparts on average.

Women are still less likely to progress up the career ladder into high-paying senior roles.

What is the government doing about the gender pay gap?

The government is taking action by:

  • requiring large employers, including the public sector, to publish their gender pay gap and gender bonus gap

  • offering 30 hours of free childcare for working families with 3 and 4 year-olds

  • encouraging girls to consider a wider range of careers, including in those higher paying sectors traditionally dominated by men

The government has already:

  • extended the right to request flexible working to all employees

  • introduced shared parental leave

  • commissioned a review to look at how we can remove the barriers preventing women getting to the top of their careers

Published 17 November 2016