Female contractors in the UK are charging a lower day rate than their male counterparts, according to the findings from a recent survey commissioned by SJD Accountancy.

SJD’s latest Annual Contractor Survey found that around half of male respondents (48%) charge between £500 and £749 per day, but only 35 percent of women fall into the same bracket.

The majority of female respondents (47 percent) fell into the £250-£499 day rate bracket, while only a third (32 percent) of male contractors set their day rate between those figures.

The research also found that 14 percent of male contractors also revealed that their day rate sits at more than £750 a day, but for women, only seven percent were charging the same fees.


Average day rates

However, females have seen more of an increase in their average day rate over the last 12 months than males, with almost half (45 percent) of those surveyed saying their day rate has increased compared to just 20 percent of males.

Four in five male contractors (83 percent) said their day rate has stayed the same, compared to just 45 percent of females.


What are their motivations for becoming self-employed?

Despite these differences in day rates, survey respondents generally agreed on the main motivations for going self-employed, with the top reasons being:

  • Be their own boss (male: 35%, female: 40%)
  • Receive higher pay (male: 42%, female: 40%)
  • Secure a better work/life balance (male: 34%, female: 37%)


Flexible workforce

According to the latest figures from IPSE, 1.7m women now make up around one third of the UK’s flexible workforce (36%) and one in eight are working mothers.

When it came to working overtime to get contracts complete on time, the data revealed that more than three in four (78%) of women do not bill for these hours, compared to 55 percent of male contractors.

Samantha Reading, Accountancy Director at SJD Accountancy said: “It’s really encouraging to see that so many women are seizing the opportunity to work for themselves, with females now making up around a third of the UK’s self-employed workforce. The next step is empowering women to ensure they are charging the right amount for their services.

“Educating female contractors on how they can go about charging correctly for their services by potentially increasing their day rates and ensuring they feel confident when it comes to following up on late payments is crucial to help bridge the gap this survey has highlighted in fees being charged.

“Contracting has traditionally been a male-dominated industry, so it’s fantastic to see more and more women filtering through. However, we must recognise that this can be an intimidating experience for those who are new to self-employment, so equipping people with the tools and right education to succeed and be rewarded for their work is paramount.”

Andy Chamberlain, Director of Policy at IPSE added: “The findings of this report paints a mixed picture of women in self-employment. While it is positive to see that the average female day rate has increased significantly over the past 12 months, it is saddening to see that women still lag behind men.

“At IPSE, we believe that contractor pay-rates should depend on their expertise, rather than their gender. More still needs to be done to help solve the self-employment gender pay gap.”






Amelia Brand is the Editor for HRreview, and host of the HR in Review podcast series. With a Master’s degree in Legal and Political Theory, her particular interests within HR include employment law, DE&I, and wellbeing within the workplace. Prior to working with HRreview, Amelia was Sub-Editor of a magazine, and Editor of the Environmental Justice Project at the University College London, writing and overseeing articles into UCL’s weekly newsletter. Her previous academic work has focused on philosophy, politics and law, with a special focus on how artificial intelligence will feature in the future.