Belfast Telegraph

Wage gap may make private companies reconsider

By Claire McNeilly

These wage discrepancies may well be distressing – but they're far from astounding.

After all, it can't be much of a surprise to learn that we're paid less for our endeavours in Northern Ireland than we would be for exercising the very same skills in another part of the UK.

However, the fact that the average local full-time worker would actually have to move to Wales to take home a lighter pay packet than he or she already does almost beggars belief.

Who knew that in some startling cases – such as the finance sector – employees could be earning more than 80% less than their peers? It hardly seems a fair price to pay for the privilege of opting to work and live here, where the cost of living is arguably more expensive than other regions of the UK which pay better.

Another of the notable revelations thrown up by the data – which was provided by the NI Centre for Economic Policy at this newspaper's request – is the enormous difference in wages earned by employees in the public and private sectors.

For the 32% of the total workforce in government jobs, the mean salary in Northern Ireland in 2013 was £27,053, compared to £20,034 for those on a private company payroll. That's a massive £7,000 less and it compares with UK public sector employees earning £27,056 and private sector workers on £27,703.

At the very least, these figures alone should give private companies pause for thought, because attracting and keeping talented staff is simple mathematics.

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