Gender pay gap among UK employees narrows to 9.6%

The pay gap between men and women in the UK is narrowing, official figures showed today.

Based on earnings in April 2012, the difference between hourly pay rates for men and women in full-time work decreased to 9.6%, from 10.5% in 2011. This continues a general downward trend in the pay gap in recent years, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.

Median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2012 amounted to GBP506, a rise of 1.5% from GBP498 in 2011. Dividing the pay figures on gender lines we can see that full-time earnings for men were GBP546, up 1.4%, compared with GBP449 for women, an increase of 1.9%.

Among part-time employees, women are better paid than men although their earnings are considerably below those of their full-time counterparts. Female part-time workers earned an average of GBP158 per week in April 2012 and men GBP146.

Brendan Barber, general secretary of the UK’s national trade union centre, the TUC, said that the pay gap between full-time and part-time workers is getting wider.

“This is terrible news for the millions of people who need to work part-time to balance work and caring responsibilities, or who simply can’t find full-time jobs,” he added.

As part of its annual survey of hours and earnings, the ONS also examined differences in pay by sector, pay scale and region.

There was little difference in the year-on-year rise in pay between the public and the private sector. Full-time public sector workers saw a rise in weekly earnings of 1.6% to GBP565 this year, while in the private sector the increase was 1.5% to GBP479. The ONS pointed out, however, that the difference in pay levels results from the fact that there are more low-paid jobs in the private sector and a larger proportion of graduate-level and professional occupations in the public sector.

Those at the top of the pay scales actually saw a decrease in their pay between 2011 and 2012. The hourly earnings excluding overtime of the highest paid full-time employees fell by 0.2%, while the lowest paid employees saw an increase of 2.3%.

Perhaps not surprisingly, median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees in April 2012 were highest in London, at GBP653. Employees in Wales had the lowest median earnings, at GBP453.