People from working-class backgrounds employed in professional careers earn £6,000 less compared to those from other backgrounds in the same jobs, findings from the Social Mobility Foundation show, underscoring the UK’s “shameful” class pay gap.
Professionals from poorer upbringings face an average salary of £45,437 – 12% lower than the £51,728 for people from more affluent origins – in research based on quarterly Labour Force Surveys from 2014 to 2022.
Alan Milburn, Social Mobility Foundation chair and Labour’s health secretary from 1999 to 2003, said that “too many of Britain’s workplaces share a shameful secret. It cannot be right that professionals from working-class backgrounds are paid significantly less than their peers in the same occupation.”
Milburn urged the government to mandate reporting of the class pay gap in efforts to close the gulf in wages by socioeconomic background, as with the gender pay gap. “A fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work is the least anyone should expect,” he said.
The data suggests the 12% class pay gap could be even wider than the median gender pay gap, which according to a Guardian analysis was 9.4% in 2022-23.
The class pay gap was even worse for female professionals from working-class backgrounds, facing a 19% pay gap between the average professional salary for women of all backgrounds (£43,779) compared to those from working-class backgrounds (£36,737.)
Kevin Ellis, senior partner at PwC UK, said: “The gap in pay between professionals from a lower socioeconomic background and their more privileged peer is not only a societal issue but an issue for business and the economy.”
“Businesses need diversity of talent and thought. We’ve seen the benefits of improving the diversity of our workforce – you can’t measure this without collecting socioeconomic background data.”
The Social Mobility Foundation analysis was conducted by Chris Percy, visiting research fellow at the University of Derby. The foundation is urging employers to disclose pay gap data.