On this page you will find links to official sources of information on the gender pay gap within the UK.  You will also find information on the number and outcome of equal pay cases filed with the Employment Tribunal. For information on European statistics, go to Europe.

United Kingdom data on the gender pay gap

In the UK the official source of statistics on the gender pay gap is the Office for National Statistics (the ONS). The information is of a high quality and can be relied upon, but always check whether the information you are looking at refers to the United Kingdom, or to Britain. Some analyses may also provide information specifically on Scotland and Wales. Also check the time frame within which the data has been collected, as this may vary from one analysis to another, meaning that any comparisons have to be treated with caution.

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings

The Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings is the key official source of information on the gender pay gap in the UK, but to get a full picture of women’s earnings relative to men’s it is important to read the survey in its entirety, and not just the section on the gender pay gap.  It is also well worth looking at the datasets behind the published headlines.

You should also note that the figures published in October of each year (which tend to attract the most publicity) are provisional, with the actual figures following some months later.


At the whole economy level the gender pay gap is calculated from data drawn from the Annual Survey, which is based on a 1 per cent sample of employee jobs, drawn from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs Pay As You Earn records. Information is collected on the levels, distribution and make-up of earnings and hours paid. Results are produced by gender and by various industrial, occupational and geographic breakdowns, as well as by public and private sectors and age groups.

Various methods can be used to measure the earnings of women relative to men. The headline estimates of the gender pay gap are for hourly earnings excluding overtime.  The ONS uses median, rather than mean, earnings because the median is not affected by extreme values, such as changes in the earnings of small numbers of very high earners. However, as those on very high earnings are predominantly male, and those on very low earnings predominantly female, the mean is an important measure of women’s experience of labour market disadvantage as compared to men, and one which allows international comparisons to be made.

For further information on the Annual Survey contact: Roger Smith, Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings [email protected]

The April 2019 provisional figures for the gender pay gap

In October 2019 the ONS published its latest figures on the gender pay gap between women and men by age, region, full-time and part-time, and occupation, as compiled from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings.

You can find the full analysis here, but in brief, using median hourly earnings, excluding overtime:

  • The gender pay gap is 8.9 per cent among full-time employees.
  • The gender pay gap for full-time employees is close to zero for those aged between 18 and 39 years.
  • The gap among all employees is higher (17.3 per cent). This is because more women work in part-time jobs, which are lower paid (The ONS cites an average (median) hourly rate of £9.34 compared with £14.80, excluding overtime, for full-time jobs).
  • For all employees, the gender pay gap particularly widens after the age of 30 years and this coincides with an increase in working part-time from this age. A negative gender pay gap among part-time employees emerges in the age group 22 to 29 years before reversing for 50 to 59 year old women.
  • The gender pay gap by occupation for full-time employees is in favour of men for all the main occupation groups, ranging from 4.4 per cent for sales and customer service occupations to 22.4 per cent for skilled trades occupations.
  • Looking at the gender pay gap by region, the gender pay gap for full-time employees varies considerably, from the biggest gap for those working in London (13.8 per cent), closely followed by the Southeast (13.6 per cent) to the gap in favour of women in Northern Ireland (negative 2.8 per cent).

Equal pay for equal work

Although median and mean hourly pay excluding overtime provide useful comparisons of men’s and women’s earnings, they do not reveal differences in rates of pay for comparable jobs, and it is rates of pay for comparable jobs which are the focus of the equal pay legislation.

While the ONS rightly states that this is because such measures do not allow for the different employment characteristics of men and women, such as the proportion of men and women in different occupations and their length of time in jobs, the most important reason why the comparisons do not reveal differences in rates of pay for comparable jobs is that in the absence of a national framework for job evaluation (as exists, for example, in some Eastern European countries), a national survey cannot take account of job demands.

Because the ONS data does not, and cannot, take account of job demands the headline figures for the gender pay gap should not be treated as an indicator of whether women are receiving equal pay for equal work.

Other publications from the Office for National Statistics

  • A guide to the figures

In 2017 the ONS issued a Guide to Interpreting the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings. This contains some additional information on the gender pay gap.


  • Understanding the Gender Pay Gap

In January 2018 the ONS published an article, Understanding the Gender Pay Gap in the UK, which provided an insight in to the factors which affect the gender pay gap.

The analysis showed that while both men’s and women’s pay grows for most of their lives, overall, women’s pay grows less than men’s and also stops growing earlier than men’s pay. This applies to both the private and public sectors, but the returns to pay are slightly lower in the public sector.

The analysis also found that 36.1 per cent of the gender pay gap could be explained by differences in characteristics included in the model, but that occupation has the largest effect since it explains 23.0 per cent of the differences between men’s and women’s log hourly pay.

Whilst 9.1 per cent of the difference can be explained by the difference in working patterns, men are more likely to work full-time, and full-time employees on average earn more. In other words, if women had the same returns to these characteristics as men and with all other factors held constant, women would still earn less on average than men because fewer women work in the highest-paying occupations and in full-time jobs.

The article points out that as 63.9 per cent of the gap cannot be explained, the analysis would benefit from information on family structures, education and career breaks, for without these the unexplained element is over-stated. Factors such as the number of children, the age of children, whether parents have any caring responsibilities, the number of years spent in school and the highest level of qualification achieved are likely to improve the estimation of men’s and women’s pay structures and consequently decrease the unexplained element of the pay gap. The Office for National Statistics suggests that, as a result, the unexplained element should not be interpreted as a measure of discriminatory behaviour, though it is possible that this plays a part.


  • An analysis of the gender pay gap by size of business.

In March 2018 the Office for National Statistics published a brief analysis of the gender pay gap by size of business. You can find the tables here.


The ONS has also published a visual showing some of the differences in work force composition and how these relate to the gender pay gap.


Employment Tribunal Statistics

While the quarterly reports on Statistics released by the Ministry of Justice no longer report on the number and type of employment cases being filed, the accompanying tables can sometimes provide additional information.


Last updated 18th February 2020