Ban salary secrecy, says Young Women’s Trust

Wednesday 22 August 2018

YWTEmployers should stop asking job applicants how much they earn and include salary details in adverts to help close the gender pay gap, says Young Women’s Trust, a charity that supports young women on low or no pay.

The charity commissioned a YouGov survey of employers that found that nearly half ask prospective employees about their current salary and 42 per cent admit to not including any wage details when advertising roles. The practice is most common in the private sector. 

Some US states and cities have already banned employers asking candidates about previous pay. Young Women’s Trust says that, other than in exceptional circumstances, UK organisations should follow suit. In the past year, New York City and California have outlawed the practice, which perpetuates existing gender pay gaps. Asking “the salary question” means that women who were underpaid in their previous job are more likely to be underpaid in their next one and disadvantages anyone moving to an area with a higher cost of living. 

Instead, organisations should make it clear what level the job is at by including salary details in job listings. The charity says that making pay more transparent would make it harder for employers to, even unintentionally, pay men and women different amounts for similar roles. 

Many employers agree that organisations should publish salary details for all roles to increase transparency, with some saying it is best practice as it encourages more applicants. In the charity’s survey 48 per cent of employers were in favour of the measure to bring about gender equality in the workplace. 

Young Women’s Trust chief executive Dr Carole Easton OBE said: 

“We have to break the cycle that traps women in low pay. Women often start work on a lower salary than men, move to a new job and are paid based on their previous wage, as opposed to what they or the role are worth – so they continue to be paid less. Ending this practice is crucial to ending the gender pay gap. 

“Our research shows that women are more likely to disregard jobs if they feel their skills don’t match up to them, compared to men who often apply anyway. Including salary details in job adverts would help women to see that jobs are in fact at their level and give them an idea of where they should be negotiating from to progress their pay.” 


Notes to editor: 

  1. Young Women’s Trust supports and represents women aged 16-30 in England and Wales trapped by low or no pay and facing a life of poverty. The charity provides services and runs campaigns to make sure that the talents of young women don't go to waste.
  2. Young Women’s Trust commissioned YouGov to carry out a poll of those making employment decisions in 2018. All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. The total sample size was 816 senior HR professionals / people managers. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th April - 7th May 2018. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of the UK business population by size, sector and region. The survey shows that:
    • 47 per cent (or nearly half) agreed that “in my organisation job applicants/interviewees are asked what their current salary is” (49 per cent of private sector employers, 45 per cent of public sector employers and 24 per cent of third sector employers).
    • 42 per cent say “jobs in my organisation are often advertised without details of the salary level” (51 per cent of private sector employers, 17 per cent of public sector employers and 22 per cent of third sector employers).
    • 48 per cent say that employers should “publish salary bands for all roles to increase transparency” to help to “bring about gender equality in the workplace” (44 per cent of private sector employers, 57 per cent of public sector employers and 54 per cent of third sector employers).
  3. The gender pay gap starts from the moment women begin working and many people feel they cannot refuse to answer a salary question when asked, meaning that the pay gap is perpetuated as women move between roles:
    • Young Women’s Trust found that young women apprentices earn eight per cent less than their male counterparts, leaving them more than £1,000 a year worse off.
    • Across all subject areas, men are earning on average £2,900 more than women just five years after completing their degree. Those who study architecture or computer science are earning £4,500 more than women a year (DfE statistics).
    • Young Women’s Trust’s analysis of Office for National Statistics data (October 2017 Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings) found that women lose out on nearly £140bn a year in total due to the full-time gender pay gap.

For more information, please contact Bex Bailey at or on 07963018281.