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Mind the Gender Pay Gap: UK women miss out on 250,000 lifetime earnings

The figures were calculated alongside the national rate of inflation using official ONS data detailing the average hourly pay of men and women dating back to 1971. The workings reveal that the average woman who began working at 18 years old in 1971 and retired last year aged 60 after a full working lifetime had in total lost &pound252,888.32 compared with their male counterpart. 

With the average annual salary in the UK at &pound26,500, this means that the average woman retiring last year would have had to work for an extra nine and a half years to make up the difference in lost earnings. 

Equally, with the average house price hitting the &pound250,000 last year, it could be outright home ownership that the average woman has missed out on. 

The results come just as last month’s Global Gender Gap Report revealed that although the UK’s overall equality score is largely unchanged, it has dropped out of the top 20, falling eight places to 26th on the global ranking, the UK’s lowest placing since the index began.

Commenting on how businesses can ensure discrimination does not take place within the workplace, ELAS consultant Peter Holmes, says: “Unfortunately, pay discrimination remains a reality in the UK, but those employers who are discriminating when it comes to wages are leaving themselves increasingly at risk. 

“Employers should be aware that secrecy clauses have now been outlawed, so there is nothing stopping employees from comparing wages between themselves. If wage discrimination is found to be taking place then this could prove to be extremely costly, as the amount of compensation a victim can claim against their employer on the grounds of discrimination against a protected characteristic (whether gender, age, race or sexual orientation or any other) is uncapped. 

“Additionally, as of last month (1st October 2014), employment tribunals are now 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 be required to justify the wages given to staff.”

The largest ever award handed to an employee in a race and sex discrimination case so far stands at &pound4.5 million, including compensation for loss of earnings up to retirement.

What &pound250,000 could buy you:

•         Average cost of a UK house 

•         16 Mini Coppers (starting at &pound15,300 each)

•         156 Mullberry Willow Tote Bags (retail at &pound1,600 each) 

•         588 pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes (retailing at &pound425 per pair) 

•         100 holidays to Dubai staying at the 7 star Burj Al Arab (price from Virgin holidays, 4 nights starting from &pound2,499)

•         2.8 Masarati Grantourismo Sports cars (starting at &pound89,665 each)

•         1.25 million Freddo chocolate bars (retail 20 pence each)

•         A doodle by Picasso (Auctioned for &pound250,000 in 2007)

ELAS has developed an online Equality & Discrimination course which highlights the importance of equality within the workplace and aims to make certain employees understand the risks of discriminatory acts and how to avoid them occurring in the workplace. To speak to a consultant that can advise businesses on how employers can avoid the minefield of discrimination, visit 


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