Gender wage gap narrows slightly in U.K.

But few employers measure gender pay gap: Survey
||Last Updated: 11/09/2010

The difference in average pay between men and women in full-time work in Britain narrowed slightly in 2009, with the greatest disparity remaining for those in skilled trades, according to the Office for National Statistics.

The annual survey found men in full-time work earned a median 12.97 pounds an hour before tax, compared with 11.39 pounds an hour for women — a difference of 12.2 per cent compared to 12.6 per cent in 2008.

The pay gap between men and women varied widely between different types of work. It was narrowest for those in professional jobs, where men earn just 3.8 per cent more an hour than women, and was also low for sales, associate professional and technical jobs.

But for skilled trades — a category with a wide range of jobs from plumbers to florists — the gap was 26.2 per cent. The gap was also large for managerial and factory jobs, at 20.2 per cent and 20.8 per cent respectively.

Despite the persistence of a gender wage gap in Britain, just 18 per cent of private sector employers measure their gender pay gap, with the vast majority considering such an analysis unnecessary for their business, according to a survey by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

In the public sector, where equal pay monitoring is a statutory requirement, 43 per cent of employers only complete audits to meet that requirement, not as part of an underlying effort to advance gender equality.

"Judging by these survey findings the government faces an uphill struggle in its efforts to change employer attitudes to closing the gender pay gap," said Dianah Worman, CIPD diversity adviser.

Employers that do measure their pay gap report it provides useful insights and benchmarking data (60 per cent) and helps inform pay reviews before they take place (43 per cent). However, the survey found the average cost of conducting a gender pay audit is more than 5,000 pounds — fifty times higher than government estimates.

With files from Reuters

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