Sex Inequality in Wales

The Facts

The 2014 Office for National Statistics (ONS) population data[1] shows that there are 3.1 million individuals living in Wales. The 2011 census data revealed that there were approximately 1,504,400 of men and 1,559,100 women in Wales. This meant that there were around 54,700 more women than men in Wales[2]. SexGovernment statistics for 2015 puts the number of individuals of working age in Wales at 2,514,000. Of these 1,229,000 were male with an employment rate of 59.5%; and 1,285,000 were female with an employment rate of 51.9%[3]. Pay gap In the 2014 Women Adding Value to the Economy (WAVE) report[4], analysis of gender pay gaps shows that men’s gross hourly and annual median full time earnings are higher than women’s in all of the major occupational groups. The difference in gross hourly median pay for all employees in Wales (whether working full time or part time) is 18% – or £11.02 for men compared with £9.02 for women. In the UK as a whole, the gap is wider at 19.6%. Looking at weekly earnings, the data shows that women’s gross median average weekly earnings for full time work are £364 compared to men’s at £481. The gender disparity of £97 per week, or a 20% weekly pay gap, is a difference of £5,044 per year, or £151,320 over a 30 year working lifetime.

Know Your Rights

The Equality Act 2010 provides rights under sex discrimination at work, in education, as a consumer and in public services and makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against employees because of their gender. There are four types of Sex discrimination. Direct discrimination: treating someone less favourably because of their actual or perceived sex, or because of the sex of someone with whom they associate. An example of this could be not employing a woman purely because of her gender. Indirect discrimination: can occur where there is a policy, practice or procedures that applies to all workers, but particularly disadvantages workers of a particular sex. For example, a requirement that job applicants must be six feet tall could be met by significantly fewer women than men. Indirect discrimination can only be justified if it is a proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim. Harassment: when unwanted conduct related to sex has the purpose or effect of violating an individual’s dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that individual. Victimisation: unfair treatment of an employee who has made or supported a complaint about sex discrimination. In very limited circumstances, there are some jobs which can require that the job-holder is a man or a woman. This is known as an occupational requirement. The list of occupational requirements is restricted. One example is where the job holder is likely to work in circumstances where members of one sex are in a state of undress and might reasonably object to the presence of a member of the opposite sex such as a bra-fitting service[5]. Equal pay Employers must give men and women equal treatment in the terms and conditions of their employment contract if they are employed to do:

  • ‘Like work’ – work that is the same or broadly similar
  • Work rated as equivalent under a job evaluation study.
  • Work found to be of equal value in terms of effort, skill or decision making.

Employees can compare any terms in the contract of employment with the equivalent terms in a comparators contract. A comparator is an employee of the opposite sex working for the same employer, doing like work of equal value. However, an employer may defend a claim if they show the reason for the difference is due to a genuine factor and not based on the sex of the employee. Employees are also entitled to know how their pay is made up. For example, if there is a bonus system, everyone should know how to earn bonuses and how they are calculated. The Equality Act makes it unlawful to prevent employees from having discussions to establish if there are differences in pay. However, an employer can require their employees to keep pay rates confidential from people outside of the workplace. An employee who thinks they are not receiving equal pay can write to their employer asking for information that will help them establish whether there is a pay difference and if so the reasons for the difference. From the 1st October 2014 employers who lose equal pay claims could be forced to conduct an equal pay audit and publish the results[6].


  1. Population Estimates for UK, England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, Mid-2013.
  2. Office for National Statistics. 2011 Census – Population and Household Estimates for Wales, March 2011.
  3. Annual labour market summary (16 or over) by Welsh local area and economic activity status.
  4. Sex discrimination.
  5. Equal pay.