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Gender pay gap stands at 21%

This means that on average women across the UK will essentially earn 80p for every pound that men receive.

The latest figures, released today by the ONS, revealed that although in 2013 males and females earned comparable wages through their teens, 20s and early 30s, the gender pay gap significantly widens upon women reaching their mid-thirties, where males start to out-earn females – with the difference peaking at an astounding 45% for 49 year olds.

Commenting on the findings, employment law consultant at ELAS, Peter Holmes, said, “The scale of the discrepancy between wages across the board is surprising and the fact sadly remains that there are fewer women in senior roles.

“Some may put part of the pay discrepancy down to maternity leave and women who have had a career gap spanning several years may struggle to command the same salary when they return. It will be interesting to see whether the wage gap closes over the coming years with the introduction of new paternity legislation in 2015, which will allow men to take the same maternity leave as women, since this aims to give new parents more choice as to who takes the lead on raising the children.

“Employers need to be mindful that secrecy clauses have been outlawed, so there is nothing stopping employees from comparing wages between themselves. If discrimination in wages is occurring, as these figures seem to indicate, employers may be leaving themselves at risk of equal pay claims and sex discrimination cases.

“Additionally, from 1st October 2014, employment tribunals will be obliged, in certain circumstances, to order employers in breach of equal pay law to conduct equal pay audits. This will act as a warning to companies to ensure there is equality, in salaries as they may need to justify the wages given to staff.”

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