The UK gender pay gap

07 March 2016
  • International Women’s Day’s annual ‘pledge for parity’ may not become a reality until 2133
  • Female salaries grew more slowly than male salaries between 2014 and 2015
  • Men likely to earn £300,000 more than women in a lifetime

London, 7 March 2016: While the theme of International Women’s Day 2016 may be its Pledge for Parity, the World Economic Forum1 predicts that full gender parity in pay may not fully arrive until 2133.  Yet it may take even longer than that according to statistics2 analysed by specialist recruitment firm Robert Half, which found that men are likely to earn £300,000 more than women over a lifetime of work3.

The analysis also revealed that gross annual earnings for women last year grew by just 1.4% between 2014 and 2015 compared to 1.6% for men, which highlights the fact that the gender gap is getting larger rather than closing. Given men have on average higher salaries to begin with, the absolute difference is magnified still further.

The median gross pay for full-time male employees in 2015 was £29,934 but for women employees it is far lower at £24,202, well below the average annual UK earnings of £27,645.  This represents a gender pay gap of £5,732, meaning that men earn, on average, 24%4 more than women for the year.

When taken over a working career of 52 years, this translates into lifetime earnings of £1,556,568 for men and £1,258,504 for women, creating a £298,064 shortfall in earnings for female employees. 

In November 2015, the World Economic Forum reported that globally women had reached pay parity with men, but only with salaries paid in 2006, saying: “Despite an additional quarter of a billion women entering the global workforce since 2006, wage inequality persists, with women only now earning what men did a decade ago.”

Katy Tanner, Director, Robert Half UK said: “Creating a diverse talent pool is becoming more of a priority as the skills shortage heats up and business leaders focus on attracting and retaining talent. As in-demand candidates continue to be in the driver’s seat, employers are needing to offer competitive remuneration and benefits packages above industry averages.

“International Women’s Day provides a platform to highlight the importance for rewarding all employees fairly on the basis of their contribution to the organisation, than their gender or indeed any other point of difference.”

- ENDS -


Notes to Editor

1 Source: World Economic Forum

2 Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest provisional Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) 
Statistics mentioned are for full-time employees aged 16 and over.

3 Life time of work has been calculated on the assumption that a working life is 52 years – from 16 years of age (as per the ASHE figures) to the age of 68. While there is no single measure that adequately deals with the complex issue of the differences between men’s and women’s pay, for the purposes of straight comparisons, considerations such as flexible working, maternity/paternity leave, overtime and bonuses were deliberately not taken into account. For purpose of comparison, calculated lifetime earnings based on men and women both working 52 years with no breaks or flexible working.

4 Female salaries were used as the baseline to calculate the difference between the two genders based on ASHE figures. To look at lifetime earnings, the comparison of men and women working 52 years, full-time, with no breaks, flexible hours, maternity/paternity or variables considered. 

About Robert Half

Robert Half is the world’s first and largest specialised recruitment consultancy and member of the S&P 500. Founded in 1948, the company has over 330 offices worldwide providing temporary, interim and permanent recruitment solutions for accounting and finance, financial services, technology, and administrative professionals. Robert Half offers workplace and job seeker resources at and