Majority of Brits back pay transparency to fight inequality

Experts said publishing pay and tax details for workers could promote fair pay and reduce the gender wage gap

Most UK workers would support income transparency measures if it meant reducing inequality, a study has found – the first time so many Brits have backed the idea.

Research conducted by YouGov for job site Indeed showed that 56 per cent of people would give up their financial privacy to know how much their colleagues are paid.

The measures would see personal information like monthly income and tax returns made publicly available and have been called for by trade unions and think tanks. Only 33 per cent of the 2,000 full-time workers surveyed were against the idea.

Experts said younger people were largely behind the swing in opinion as they bring “different views” on money and etiquette to the UK workforce.

Researchers suggested that pay transparency could prove an important tool for companies to hold onto staff who are concerned about fair pay and reducing the gender wage gap.

Nearly a third of UK workers (31 per cent) said they were unhappy with what they are paid and more than half said they would consider leaving their current job if their income didn’t increase in the next couple of years.

Pawel Adrjan, an economist for indeed, said:  “In the UK, there has been a deep-seated reticence to discuss financial matters with even close friends, colleagues or family.

“This attitude is clearly being challenged, perhaps in part due to the huge interest that gender pay gap reporting has gathered but perhaps more so thanks to the new generation of younger workers with different views on money and the workplace.”

The measures would resemble the systems already in place in Finland, Sweden and Norway, where details of every worker’s pay and tax details are published by law.

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Shadow chancellor John McDonnell backed forcing the publication of tax details for people who earned over £1m annually back in 2017. He said Labour would pursue income transparency measures if elected.

“It’s clear that excessive pay inequality is one of the drivers of the anger and resentment which many people feel towards the establishment.

“Labour will tackle the scourge of those earning enormous sums and using schemes of dubious morality to hide them offshore in tax havens.”

Figures released earlier by the Office for National Statistics earlier this year showed that incomes for the richest fifth of the population increased by nearly 5 per cent over the past decade – but the poorest fifth saw their incomes shrink by 1.6 per cent, contributing to a widening gap between rich and poor across the UK.