Women over 50 in the UK are paid almost £8,000 a year less than men, according to research revealing that the collapse of retailers during the pandemic has hit women much harder than men.
An analysis of official data found that the median annual salary of women working full-time in their 50s was 23% less than that of men in the same age group, according to a report by Rest Less, a company that offers help and advice to people over 50. Women in their 60s were paid 25% less.
The study shows that a woman in a full-time job earned on average just under £28,000 this year, compared with nearly £34,000 for men. But the gap was wider for those over 50 – £26,230 for women and £34,325 for men, the report said. Women aged over 60 are paid £23,903 on average, while men receive £31,667.
Gap between female (lower) and male (higher) median annual salaries, 2020
The coronavirus pandemic has led to a string of high street failures, including the collapse of the department store chain Debenhams and Arcadia, the retail group that includes Topshop and Dorothy Perkins. Women tend to make up the bulk of the retail workforce, including older women and mothers working part-time.
Widespread job losses in the hospitality industry have also disproportionately affected women.
Stuart Lewis, the founder of Rest Less, said: “Women in their 50s and 60s face the double discrimination of age bias, combined with the widest gender pay gap of all ages, receiving a salary of £8,000 less per year than their male counterparts in full-time employment.
“Whilst the state pension age has now been equalised at 66 for both sexes, decades of a gender pay gap and the resulting wide gulf in private pension savings mean that the future retirement incomes of men and women remain far from equal,” he added.
“The fact that earnings peak in our 40s and decline as we head into our 50s and 60s has profound implications for all of us and our retirement savings plans. We can no longer rely on bigger salaries in the years before we retire to fund our pensions, and instead need to consider the most efficient ways to save for retirement from an early age.”
Progress in tackling the gender pay gap has been painfully slow, and women who are in their mid-30s now will never know equal pay in their working lives if efforts to narrow the gap are not stepped up, according to separate recent analysis from Labour. It was published on 20 November to mark Equal Pay Day, the day that women in effect stop being paid because of the gender pay gap in the UK.