Gender pay gap is at an all-time low

Thursday 20th November 2014

Statistics published this week by the Office of National Statistics show the average full-time pay gap between men and women is at its lowest since comparative records began.

The difference is now 9.4% for full-time workers, compared to 10% in 2013.  In 1997, when comparative records began, the gap was 17.4%.  For those in full-time work under the age of 40, the gender pay gap has reduced to almost zero. The gender pay gap for all employees has reduced to 19.1% from 19.8% in 2013.

Chancellor George Osbourne has said the figures were “another sign of progress in the fight for equal pay”.

So, why does this pay gap exist and what are the government doing to combat it?

The main causes of the pay gap are twofold:

  • Male employees tend to work in better paid sectors than their female counterparts and
  • Women are more likely to take career breaks to raise a family, which often has a negative impact on their careers when they do return to work.


The government is hoping to tackle these causes by introducing:

  • from April 2015, shared parental leave to encourage more equal parenting,
  • from September 2015, tax-free child care and
  • a greater right for employees to request flexible working, a right which came into force earlier this year.


The government has also invested £2m in funding a training and mentoring programme of events for women, specifically targeting women working in science, technology, engineering and maths, as well as the agricultural and retail and hospitality sectors.

As for whether these measures will have any effect in real terms, watch this space…