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UK women earn less salary as peak pay gap rises over £8,000

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Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
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Man and woman sitting in cafeteria discussing finance for the month. Stressed couple looking at bills sitting in restaurant wearing uniform apron. Café staff sitting together looking at expenses and bills.
Once peak has been reached, workers' salaries either stall or start decreasing slightly until they retire. Photo: Getty

Women in the UK hit the peak of their earnings age 40, while men's average pay continues to rise for another four years.

According to TotalJobs Peak Earnings Predictor, this creates an average peak salary gap of £8,122 ($11,226).

‘Peak earnings’ is the age when you earn the highest wage relative to hours worked. Most workers can expect to achieve their highest earnings in the middle of their careers, and this is influenced by a combination of factors including experience, location, education, industry, and the companies they have worked for.

Once peak has been reached, workers' salaries either stall or start decreasing slightly until they retire.

The predictor enables people to benchmark their earnings and find out their potential peak salaries and at what age they could achieve them.

TotalJobs research found that women’s average salary is only higher than men’s at the age of 21, with men’s wages outstripping women’s over the rest of their careers.

Level of education has long had a defining impact on access to employment, but it also has a transformative effect on the peak salary an employee could expect to earn in their career.

Employees with a master's degree can expect to reach a salary peak of £64,693 ($89,815) at 62. That’s £21,845 more than people who did not go on to university.

For an individual who obtains a doctorate, their salaries peak at 58 with a high reward of £81,066 on average. This would be a financial boost of £16,373 per annum that would be achieved eight years earlier compared with the average peak of someone holding a bachelor’s degree.

READ MORE: IR35 tax changes: What you need to know and does it affect you?

London remains the most lucrative region for UK workers to achieve the highest peak salaries. Employees can bag a career peak of £63,508 at a youthful 47. That’s £23,891 more than the North East, which has the lowest national peak of £39,617 at 48.

Previous research from Totaljobs carried out in the last 12 months has found that women’s salary expectations are typically significantly lower than men's. On average, men ask for 29% more than women when they start a new job, resulting in a £7,430 gender salary expectation gap.

And it does not stop there. Contrary to popular opinion, women receive as many pay raises as men do – but they usually end up receiving £446 less on average. These factors are part of a cycle of actions and attitudes that contribute to the UK’s existing gender pay gap issue known as the Gender Pay Trap.

WATCH: How to negotiate a pay rise