Slow progress

The U.K.’s gender pay gap falls to record low — but is not dropping fast enough, experts say

(TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)

The gender pay gap in the U.K. has fallen to its lowest point on record, according to a survey by the Office for National Statistics.

The BBC reports that as of April 2018, full-time female employees made 8.6 percent less on average than their male counterparts, down from 9.1 percent in the previous year. The gap was most marked among workers over the age of 39. According to The Financial Times, the gap stands at 12.8 percent for people in their 40s and 15.5 percent for employees in their 50s. But for women in their 20s and 30s, the full-time gap is very close to disappearing, coming in at below 1.5 percent.

Still, experts do not paint an entirely rosy picture of the new data. For one thing, the average gap pay is falling too slowly, Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady tells the Times.

“At this rate, another generation of women will spend their whole working lives waiting to be paid the same as men,” she says.

The TUC also said that if the change progresses at its current rate, it will take another 55 years for the gender gap to close, reports the BBC.

Another problem lies in the fact that hourly part-time wages are significantly lower than full-time pay — and women, particularly those who are raising children, make up a substantial portion of part-time workers. Twenty-eight percent of women between the ages of 22 and 30 work part time, climbing to 38 percent of women in their 30s and 41 percent of women in their 40s.

Some of the biggest gender pay gaps were seen among upper-level roles in the mining, energy, construction, and financial sectors.

Laura Suter, personal finance specialist at AJ Bell, tells the BBC that young women who have recently entered the workforce should be “encouraged to progress through to senior management roles.”

“Focus should also turn to addressing the larger pay gaps that persist for older employees,” she adds.

Read the full story at the BBC and The Financial Times.

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