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Separate bodies of research have unveiled alarming findings about gender pay inequality in the UK.

A study by the Living Wage Foundation found that women are facing a ‘pay penalty’, earning only 90p compared to an equally qualified man earning a £1. Almost 2.2 million women earn less than the real Living Wage, compared to almost 1.5 million men.

The study, which was based on Office for National Statistics data, also found that six in ten low paid jobs are held by women, who are around twice as likely as male workers to report having no money left once essentials have been paid for. The proportion and number of women working in lower paid jobs in 2023 had increased from the previous year. In 2022, just over 2 million jobs held by women were paid less than the real Living Wage.

The gender pay disparity is even more pronounced in part-time jobs. Part-time jobs paid below the real Living Wage are twice as likely to be filled by women than men. Around 1.4m low-paid part-time jobs are held by women, compared to 656,000 jobs filled by men.

The real Living Wage is the only wage in the UK to be based on the cost of living. It is currently set at £12 per hour across the UK and £13.15 in London. It is voluntarily paid by more than 14,000 businesses who believe their staff deserve to be paid enough to meet everyday essentials.

The Living Wage Foundation campaigns to persuade employers to pay the real Living Wage. Its research looked at regional gender pay disparities. It found that the East Midlands is home to the largest gender difference within low paid jobs, where two in ten jobs held by women are low paid, compared to one in ten jobs held by men.

‘Pay penalty’

PwC’s Women in Work Index, which assesses progress made towards achieving gender equality at work across 33 OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, showed similar findings. The gender pay gap in Britain has extended to 14.5 percent, marking a fall in ranking in the Index from 13th position to 17th. This was the largest annual fall of rankings experienced by any OECD country this year. The report shows that women are facing a ‘pay penalty’, earning only 90p compared to an equally qualified man earning £1.

The report also finds that the UK’s gender pay gap has widened by 0.2 percentage points, making it higher than the OECD average and more than half the other countries assessed on the Index.

It warns that at the current rate of progress, it will take 43 years to close the gender pay gap in Britain. The report also looked at regional discrepancies and found that the West Midlands was the worst performing region for pay inequality, followed by the East Midlands.


Sheila Flavell CBE, Chief Operating Officer for FDM Group, described the findings of the Index as ‘disheartening.’

“It is disheartening to see the gender pay gap widening across industry and highlights that many businesses across all sectors are falling behind the curve when it comes to fair and equal pay.”

Ian Elliott, Chief People Officer at PwC UK, said: “Our analysis is a timely reminder that employers have to look at all the factors that contribute to pay gaps. Alongside transparent and robust gender pay gap reporting, it’s also vital that health and wellbeing resources are accessible and the workplace is an empowering place for employees experiencing the menopause and other health conditions.

“Moreover, it’s crucial that working parents are properly supported – championing flexible and hybrid working, alongside progressive parental leave policies, is key.”

Gabrielle Pickard-Whitehead is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

The post International Women’s Day: Britain’s increasing gender pay inequality revealed in new reports appeared first on Left Foot Forward: Leading the UK’s progressive debate.

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