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Gender pay gap widened during pandemic

Joanna Faith
Written By:
Joanna Faith

The pandemic caused the gender pay gap to widen but it hasn’t undone years of progress.

Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show the gender pay gap among full-time employees in April 2021 was 7.9 per cent, up from 7 per cent a year earlier.

However, it’s still down from the pre-pandemic 9 per cent seen in 2019.

Among all employees, the gender pay gap increased to 15.4 per cent, from 14.9 per cent in 2020, but is still down from 17.4 per cent in 2019.

The gender pay gap is higher for all employees than it is for full-time or part-time employees because women fill more part-time jobs, which in comparison with full-time jobs have lower hourly median pay, the ONS said.

There remains a large difference in the gender pay gap between employees aged 40 and over and those under 40.

Under the age of 40, the gender pay gap is 3 per cent or below and has been since 2017. Over the age of 40 it’s 12 per cent.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “This isn’t a reversal of the trend: it’s a bump caused by the pandemic. When the 2020 study was carried out, more men were furloughed, and half were on temporarily lower pay, so the gap looked smaller than it actually was. When the 2021 study was done, the position was reversed, so it looked larger than it really was.”

The ONS data shows most employees saw their earnings increase in 2021 but particularly those most affected by the pandemic in 2020, most notably younger employees, men and the lowest-paid occupations.

Average weekly pay for full-time employees was £611 in April 2021, up 4.3 per cent on a year earlier – the biggest jump since 2008.