Gender Pay Gap in the UK: 2021

Date Posted: Tuesday 26th October 2021

Employmentgender pay gapLabour MarketONS

The Office for National Statistics’ (ONS) measures of employee earnings, using data from the Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE) were published today, including the latest figures on the Gender Pay Gap (GPG) in the UK.

We echo the warnings of the ONS that interpreting earnings data accurately is difficult due to the impacts of the pandemic. Comparisons with 2020 should be approached with caution and it is the longer-term trends that should be focused on instead

We summarise the main points below:

  • In April 2021, men who were working full-time earned 7.9% more per hour than women. This is the official GPG and is up from 7% in April 2020 but continuing the downward trend from 9% in April 2019.
  • Overall, the GPG has been narrowing steadily since 1997. We welcome this very good sign, but at this rate it will take a long time for the gap to close, particularly for women above the age of 40.
  • After the age of 40, the GPG increases significantly. In April 2021, full-time working women in the 40-49 age group earned 12.3% less than their male counterparts. This is almost 1 percentage point higher than before the pandemic
  • After the age of 39, fewer women move into higher paying managerial occupations. This age group is where you are likely to see a big proportion of mothers juggling work and childcare, with some caring for elderly parents too.
  • Having children impacts women’s career progression more than men’s. In our joint survey of UK parents, 66% of women who were in paid employment when they became pregnant had reduced their working hours since becoming a parent, compared with 26% of men.
  • Among all employees, GPG increased to 15.4% from 14.9% in 2020. Looking at longer-term trends however it is still down from 17.4% in 2019. GPG is higher for all employees than for full-time employees because women fill more part-time jobs, which pay less per hour.
  • As well as GPG, it is useful to look at the gender gap between weekly earnings. Women work fewer hours than men due to unpaid caring responsibilities, meaning the gap between what women and men earn in a week is larger than GPG
  • Latest ONS earnings data shows that for all employees, men earned 28.2% more than women per week. This shows a decrease from 2020, where the earnings gap was 30.3%, and 2019 (30.4%).
  • The earnings gap is an important measure to consider when looking at what employees realistically take home in a week. Overall, weekly median pay has increased, continuing the longer-term trends seen over the past few years