This week, the ONS has released its research on hourly pay and the gender pay gap from its Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings (ASHE). It has revealed that since 2011, the median growths in weekly earnings for full-time employee jobs have generally been in line with the growths in hourly earnings.
The year 2009 marked a change, where hours dropped from approximately 39.5 hours per week in 2008, and weekly earnings fell but hourly earnings grew. This suggests that in 2009, on average, employees experienced an increase in hourly pay compared with 2008 but were working fewer hours. Since 1997, pay in real terms has decreased in five years, all of which occurred after 2009.
With regards to the gender pay gap, the survey shows that it has been declining slowly in recent years. Among full-time employees it now stands at 8.9%, little changed from 2018 when it was 8.6% (not a statistically significant increase). The figure for 2019 represents a decline of 3.3 percentage points from a decade ago – 12.2% in 2009 – but only 0.6 percentage points since 2012. Among all employees, the gap fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 17.3% in 2019.
The gender pay gap is higher for all employees than for each of full-time employees and part-time employees. This is because, according to the ONS, women fill more part-time jobs, which have lower hourly median pay than full-time jobs, and are more likely to be in lower-paid occupations.
These figures from the ONS demonstrate how the world of work has changed and people are now working fewer hours per week, but the real-time pay has also decreased. Furthermore, women in part-time employment are being subjected to the largest gender pay gap across society, so more needs to be done to make work pay, especially for those who cannot work full-time hours, such as new mothers.
Ultimately, employers need to be able to facilitate more flexible working hours to allow people to fulfil their maximum productivity and earning capacity – this would benefit both employers and employees, not to mention society as a whole. The faster these changes are brought into effect and the UK’s businesses can provide flexible working at scale, we sooner will see more companies become adept at retaining and nurturing their best talent, while the people who are integral to the success of British businesses start to make their pay work for them.
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