Equal Pay Day: gender pay gap for the UK’s top earners has hit 55 per cent

The top 2 per cent of male earners take home £40,000 more than their female counterparts


Each year, Equal Pay Day marks the point at which women working full-time effectively stop earning, as they are paid on average 14.2 per cent less an hour than men working full-time. It means that women will effectively work for free from today until the end of the year.

To mark Equal Pay Day, the TUC has published analysis of official statistics revealing that the gap in annual salaries between top-earning women and top-earning men has hit 54.9 per cent.

While some progress has been made in securing an increase in the number of women members on company boards, the salary gap for top earners is still very high.

Looking at the top 10 per cent of earners, the gap in annual salaries between full-time men and women rises steadily through each percentile, hitting 45.9 per cent for the top 5 per cent of earners, and reaching 54.9 per cent for the top 2 per cent. Figures are not available for the top 1 per cent as the sample is too small.

This means that the top 2 per cent of male earners take home more than £117,352 a year, while women get £75,745. That’s more than £40,000 a year less.

In July David Cameron pledged to end the gender pay gap within a generation by forcing large companies to publish information about the difference between average male and female earnings.

This is unlikely to solve the problem completely, as the measures only apply to firms who employ more than 250 people and some studies suggest that the pay gap is actually wider in smaller companies.

Today the TUC says that the governments must further, and force employers to publish more detailed information about gender pay differences in their workplace – including the distribution of men and women – alongside action plans to close the pay gap in their workplace.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said:

“These figures show that the glass ceiling is barely cracked, let alone broken.

“It is shocking the UK still has such a large gender pay differences at the top of the labour market after more than four decades of equal pay and sex discrimination legislation. We need pay transparency, equal pay audits and a requirement on companies to tackle gender inequality – or face fines.

“We need a fair labour market that works for everyone and that doesn’t discriminate against women. I would urge all women concerned about their pay to join a union. Being in a union is the best way to get your voice heard and your interests represented at work.”

The ONS will be publishing the 2015 gender pay gap on Wednesday 18 November.

Ruby Stockham is a staff writer at Left Foot Forward

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by becoming a Left Foot Forward Supporter today.