Every six months we do some research into the average rates that umbrella workers are achieving. It usually throws up some interesting stats and this time is no exception.

We are just about to release the stats for the third year and there is one trend that keeps coming up that is just as worrying as it is interesting. It seems that there is a distinct gender gap amongst contractors, temps and freelancers in the UK and, unlike permie employment where the gap is narrowing; this one has nearly doubled since February 2010.

When we first did the research and took the average rates for male and female umbrella workers we found that there was a gap of £2,643 per annum based on an average working week of 37.5 hours and 47 weeks per year. In February 2011 this had risen to £3,225 and now, in February 2012 it’s reached £4,459.

The findings clearly show that a gender gap exists in the contracting market which is a surprise when reports in national press would suggest that the wage gap between men and women is narrowing. In the past year, nearly a third of all board appointees have been women, edging their share of power in FTSE 100 companies up to 13.9%. The reasons that the gap exists are the subject of much debate, with various parties citing aspects such as women taking a break from employment to have a family etc. However I don’t believe this stands up when it comes to contracting. When an end-user employs a contractor, temp or freelancer it is based on them having the required skill set in order to satisfy the end users requirements. Surely it is the skill set and the market for this skill set that should set the rate, and gender should not have any impact at all?

What has been your experience on the ground? Have you been affected by this issue or do you have any thoughts. Leave a comment and let us know.

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  1. I think an important element that needs to be considered in this topic are gender differences when it comes to negotiating pay for a contract. If women are found to be less aggressive in negotiations, this could well be a factor.

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