UK Wage gap falls for full-time employees

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The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has announced that the full-time pay gap is less than 10% for first time since records started. However the overall gap remains almost double that as salaries in general fail to keep up with inflation.

The difference between men’s and women’s hourly full-time pay fell from 10.5% in 2011 to 9.6% in 2012. The average gross full-time salary of women in the UK now stands at £23,100 which is £5,600 less than their male counterparts. The ONS has estimated that using the current rate of change women’s full-time pay will not equal men’s until 2040.

Economists have described that the narrowing gap is the result of a cultural shift, more progressive attitudes displayed by bosses and higher aspirations among women.

Whilst the gap is narrowing with full-time work the gap with part-time work remains much higher. The gap currently stands at 19.7% compared to 20.2% in 2011.

General Secretary designate at the TUC Frances O’Grady said, “No healthy modern economy should have an enduring gender pay gap and growing in-work poverty. Unfortunately, common sense solutions such as senior level job shares and flexible working are rarely available in the private sector, and are now under attack in the public sector.”

“Unless we change the way we work we will never eliminate the pay gap or tackle poverty.”

Founder of the online freelance marketplace PeoplePerHour Xenios Thrasyvoulou added, “Women are steadily chipping away at the glass ceiling. [They] may be starting to win the battle of the sexes, but the workforce as a whole is losing the battle with inflation.”

The report also stated that the number of people earning below the national minimum wage fell during the past 12 months. However the accuracy of these figures is difficult to validate as many apprentices and trainees exempt from the minimum wage rate or only entitled to lower rates.

Public sector workers also earned more than those in the private sector across almost all measures used by the ONS. The average weekly pay of full-time employees in the public sector was £565 in 2012 compared with £479 in the private sector. However the ONS have made clear that this may be due to the fact that many low-paid occupations such as hairdressers, bar and restaurant staff and junior sales roles do not exist in the public sector.

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