Real average weekly earnings for full-time employees in the UK fell 2.6% in the year to April 2022, while the gender pay gap widened to 8.3%, according to the annual survey of hours and earnings (ASHE).
The Office for National Statistics revealed that despite the median weekly full-time wage increasing 5% to £640 in April 2022 (£610 in 2021), which was the highest rate of growth since comparable records began in 1997, real earnings were down when adjusted for the CIPH measure of inflation, which in April was 7.8%.
For part-time employees, median pay rose 6.1% in nominal terms to £228 a week. However, earnings fell by 1.6% when adjusted for inflation.
The gender pay gap among full-time employees grew slightly, from 7.7% in April 2021 to 8.3% in April 2022. Pre-pandemic, in April 2019, the gap was 9.0%. Earnings for men who work full time grew at a higher rate (5%) than women’s wages (4.6%) in 2021-22.
The managers, directors and senior officials occupation group experienced the largest fall in its gender pay gap since April 2019, from 16.3% to 10.6%. The ONS said this group has previously been identified as having a notable impact on the pay gap.
The pay gap grew for people in skilled trade occupations and associate professional and technical occupations, however, which impacted the overall figure.
Gender pay gap
Sandra Wilson, director at recruitment and HR consultancy Cottrell Moore, said the gender pay gap figures should be interpreted with caution.
“Firstly these figures are a measure across all jobs in the UK, not of the difference in pay between men and women for doing the same job. This is a crucial element and without this mentioned it can give totally the wrong impression,” she said.
“The issue that I see regularly in organisations, which needs addressing further, is when higher earners experience a much larger difference in hourly pay between the sexes compared with lower paid employees.
“On a positive note, it looks like females in the younger generation are more confident to address pay, as the stats show over time the gender pay gap is slowly decreasing in the under 40s.”
Cheney Hamilton, CEO at HR and business consultancy, Find Your Flex group, said: “Whilst the majority of businesses within the UK operate on a cost and budget model, there will never be gender parity on pay. Neither will we achieve true and positive social mobility, and nor will those businesses be inclusive or sustainable.
“Whilst fixed costs rule the day in organisations, they will always struggle to bring people who have had ‘time out’ of the rat race to care or give birth a fair route back in, because they lack the agility and working models to achieve it. Outcome based job descriptions are the only way businesses in the UK can become sustainable, inclusive, flexible and engender social mobility and finally close the gender pay gaps that exist across their business in a fair and proactive way.”
Median weekly earnings for full-time employees increased in all but one sectors – the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply sector, which recorded a 0.2% fall in wages. The accomodation and food services sector saw the highest increase in wages, 18.7%, which the ONS said was mainly due to the impact of furlough on pay in 2021.
Public sector gross median pay for full-time employees increased 4.6%, which is larger than the 2.5% growth rate seen between 2020 and 2021. The private sector had a larger increase in 2022 (5.9%), compared with 2021, after having decreased between 2019 and 2020 (down 0.8%).
Mean paid hours worked for all workers stayed the same between 2021 and 2022, after increasing 1.5% between 2020 and 2021. However, the hours worked by those aged 60 years and over increased, while hours for workers aged 18 to 21 continued to decrease.