top of page

ONS publishes report on ethnicity pay gap statistics

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has released its findings on the ethnicity pay gap in the UK, using data from the Annual Population Survey which ran between 2012 to 2022. The ONS report analyses the differences in average pay between ethnic groups. The stark data confirms that the UK's ethnicity pay gap has persisted since 2012, as some ethnic groups continue to earn less on average than their White British counterparts. The size of the pay gap varies depending on various factors, such as the ethnic group and the geographical location.

The ethnicity pay gap is a measure of disparity between the median gross hourly earnings of the reference group (White or White British employees) and the comparative ethnic groups. There are five categories of ethnicity groups used in the UK analysis:

  • White

  • Asian or Asian British

  • Black, African, Caribbean or Black British

  • Mixed or Multiple ethnic groups

  • Other ethnic groups

The ONS's study indicates that:

  • Black, African, Caribbean or Black British workers have consistently earned less than their White counterparts since 2012.

  • Country of birth also plays a significant part in pay differences. Non-UK-born Black employees had the biggest pay gap in 2022. The data suggests that they earned 12% less than UK-born White employees, with UK-born White employees earning an average of £14.26 per hour and non-UK-born Black employees earning £12.95 per hour.

  • In 2022, according to the five-category classification, Asian or Asian British workers outearned White workers. However, when the study looked at a more granular 18-category classification that compares White British workers (English, Welsh, Scottish, Northern Irish or British) with Asian or Asian British workers (Bangladeshi, Chinese, Indian, Pakistani and Other Asian), the results were more nuanced. Chinese and Indian individuals had higher income, while Bangladeshi and Pakistani individuals had lower income when both were compared to White British workers.

The ethnicity pay gap may also be influenced by variations in personal circumstances and work characteristics. The factors that impact the pay gap most significantly are occupation, qualifications, geographic location, age and gender. After accounting for these, to provide an adjusted pay gap for a fair comparison, UK-born White workers earn more on average than most ethnic minority workers.

In 2023, the UK government published guidance for employers on how to measure, report on and address any ethnicity pay differences within their workforce. The government guidance mirrors the approach taken in the guidance for gender pay gap reporting, whilst demonstrating an understanding of the added complexities of ethnic pay gap reporting which involves a comparison of more than two categories of individuals. The guidance recommends that employers carefully scrutinise and explore the underlying causes for any pay disparities.

Paul Nowak, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) general secretary, commented on the ONS results, stating that "structural racism still plays a big role in determining black workers' pay and career prospects". The TUC calls on the government to introduce mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting, but the government has previously confirmed that it would not be legislating to require it.

Addressing the ethnicity pay gap is a matter of ensuring fairness and equality in the workplace. Employers who actively work to close the ethnicity pay gap can enhance their reputation as socially responsible and equitable organisations, and can help to improve efficiency as well as employee morale, productivity and loyalty within their organisation.


bottom of page