Last reviewed 12 January 2021

The gender pay gap between men and women working full time is at its widest for those over 50, according to new analysis from Rest Less, a digital community for that age group.

Its analysis of pay data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found that the median annual salary of women working full time in their 50s was 23% less than the median full time salary of men in the same age group, with women in their 60s earning 25% less.

The median annual salary of a female full time employee (FTE) in 2020 was £27,981 compared with £33,923 for men ― a difference of £5942 and representing 18% less.

According to the analysis, both women and men reach their peak earnings during their 40s when their median annual incomes were £31,403 and £38,829 respectively ― equating to a gap of £7426.

This means that women were taking home an annual salary which was nearly one fifth (19%) less than men.

Looking at the change over time, Rest Less found that women’s median full-time salaries dropped on average by 9% from their peak earnings in their 40s to their 50s and the median earnings for women working full time in their 60s was 24% lower than the median earnings for women in their 40s.

By contrast the median salary of men in their 50s, was 5% lower than those of men in their 40s and for men working full time in their 60s, their median salary was 19% lower than those in their 40s.

Founder of the community, Stuart Lewis, said: “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.”

Comment by Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula

As a result of this revelation, employers may now seek to address these issues within their own companies, especially as gender pay gap reporting looms for qualifying employers.

In this upcoming report, not only will the impact of coronavirus need to be addressed, but now employers will likely pay closer attention to any age discrimination that may derive from gender-based pay gaps.