NI's gender pay gap has increased yet is still smallest in the UK, says PwC

  • Northern Ireland has the smallest gender pay gap (GPG) in all of the UK according to a report by PwC, but that gap has increased.

    The PwC Women in Work Index is an analysis by the professional services firm of “female economic empowerment”.  

    It states that the gap between the number of men and women in work in NI has decreased from 10% to 8% and is now below the UK average of 10%.

    However, a 2019 report from the Northern Ireland Assembly on the GPG highlighted that during 2018 the GPG was 9.6%, up from 8.6% in 2017. 

    In 1998 this figure stood at 22.7%.

    This report also found that women earned less than men in all occupation groups.

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    The five indicators that make up PwC's Index are: the gender pay gap, female labour force participation, the gap between male and female labour force participation, female unemployment and female full-time employment rate. 

    Northern Ireland is now second in its UK table, rising two places from last year.

    The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) found an increase in the number of women in employment, up to 418,000 by the end of 2019 which hit a joint record high.

    Despite the increase, NI remains 12th in PwC’s Index table for female labour participation.

    Lynne Rainey, PwC NI Partner, commented:

    “The single biggest factor in Northern Ireland moving up the [overall] Index is the increase in the number of women coming into the workforce. This underlines how important it is that we continue to find ways to remove the traditional barriers that prevent women from choosing to work and enabling them to fully participate in society.

    “Practical and progressive approaches like having flexible working hours, working from home policies and returnerships which support women to re-enter the workforce all have a role to play. It’s also crucial that women get the right opportunities to upskill in the face of increasing automation as we enter the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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    “Introducing these approaches may mean substantial changes in some businesses, but the prize of getting it right is the prospect of significant economic gains.

    “Our Index shows that since 2000, Northern Ireland has seen the largest narrowing of its Gender Pay Gap. Though this has increased slightly, this could be due to more women entering lower-paid, part-time work.

    “However there’s no room for complacency when you consider the difference between female earnings in the public and private sectors, where women earn 3% more than men in the former and 16% less in the latter. This remains an area that needs to be remedied.”

    For more information on the report please visit 

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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