UK women half as confident as men asking for payrises

March 2, 2018

With the deadline looming for UK companies to report their gender pay gap*, new research from Mintel on the working life reveals a distinct lack of confidence among British female workers when it comes to asking for more.

While on average a third (32%) of workers feel confident** about asking for a pay rise, women are almost half (22%) as confident as men (42%) about requesting for more pay. Mintel research finds that a lack of confidence among women is playing out in other areas of working life, with just 41% of women feeling confident about challenging a manager/senior employee, compared to 62% of men.

Overall, 73% of British workers say they often work when they are unwell, while a third (33%) lack the confidence to call in sick. A further 16% of workers admit they are not confident about asking for time off for holiday, while 29% of workers say they sometimes do work whilst on holiday and 39% check emails outside of work.

Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst at Mintel, said:

“While there’s lots of debate about whether women are less likely to ask for pay rises than men, Mintel’s research certainly shows that women feel less confident entering pay negotiations than their male counterparts. This could also reflect a parallel confidence gap between those in full- and part-time employment. Women, who are more likely to be in part-time work than men, feel less entitled to a pay rise than full-time workers. As more women become aware of ingrained workplace gender biases, many could feel that they enter pay negotiations with the odds stacked against them, putting them at a disadvantage when it comes to negotiating.”

Permanent v. temporary workers’ confidence gap

It is not just women who lack confidence in the workplace. There is a marked difference in confidence between those on permanent contracts and those on temporary or flexible contracts. Whilst 80% of workers with a permanent contract are confident** about asking for time off for a holidays, this plummets to 63% of workers on a temporary/flexible/zero hours contract. And while 76% of workers with a permanent contract are confident** about asking for time off for a bereavement, this also falls to 63% of workers on a temporary/flexible/zero-hours contract.

“While there is little doubt that rising employment levels in the UK in recent years have been a positive sign for the economy, there are concerns that employment levels have been boosted by a growing number of people on zero-hours contracts. A notable confidence gap emerges between those on permanent and temporary/flexible contracts, particularly when it comes to asking for time off, challenging a more senior colleague and asking for pay rises. Much of this gap can be attributed to temporary and flexible contracts being less secure, with flexible contract workers in particular benefiting from fewer rights than their permanent counterparts.”

Brits take a ‘lunch is for wimps’ approach

Mintel research on Britain’s lunchtime habits reveals that while an hour-long lunch break may be considered traditional, today, just 15% of workers take over 45 minutes to an hour for their lunch. In fact, British workers typically take 30 minutes and under for their main break (52%). While 8% take less than 15 minutes for lunch, 5% do not take a break at all. Taking a more leisurely approach, only 3% of Brits enjoy more than an hour at lunchtime.

On average, the nation’s men take a more relaxed approach to their lunch. While 24% of men typically take over 30 minutes to 45 minutes, this drops to 17% of women. While one in ten (10%) women take less than 15 minutes for lunch, this falls to 6% of men.

The trend towards shorter lunch breaks comes as a third (34%) of workers admit they struggle to find time to exercise.

“While in theory working through breaks should mean that people are able to get more work done, in reality it could be hindering their output, as physical inactivity has been widely linked to poor workplace productivity. Businesses can benefit from encouraging their workers to take proper breaks, with initiatives focused on using this time to bond with their colleagues and to be more active. For gyms and fitness clubs, this could see more campaigns focused on highlighting how an effective workout needn’t be very time-consuming, while in-office fitness classes could make it easier for people to fit in a short workout around work demands.” Jack concludes.

*Mandatory gender pay gap reporting requires businesses and charities with more 250 employees to publish and report their gender pay gap by 4 April. For more information, visit:

**Net of very confident and somewhat confident

Research was carried out among 2,000 internet users aged 16+ in October 2017.

Press copies of The Working Life UK 2018 report and interviews with Jack Duckett, Senior Consumer Lifestyles Analyst, are available on request from the press office.

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