Women get 85p for each £1 a man gets

Updated: 
Frances O'GradyToday is the last day of the year that women in full-time work get paid, according to equality campaigners at the TUC.

Women earn 15% less than men - or £5,000 a year on average - for doing the same job. That means women will effectively work the rest of the year for free, while their male colleagues still get paid. In some professions it is worse.

Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day marks the point at which women working full-time effectively stop earning. The gender pay gap is even bigger for women working part-time, who earn 35% less per hour than men working full-time. Equal Pay Day for women working part-time was back on 27 August.

Occupations with the biggest gender pay gaps % (£ annual amount)
  • Health professionals 31.0% (£16,029)
  • Culture, media and sports occupations 27.5% (£9,984)
  • Process, plant and machine operatives 23.7% (£4,992)
  • Managers, directors and senior officials 22.7% (£11,564)
  • Business and public service associate professionals 21.3% (£8,463)
  • Corporate managers and directors 20.8% (£11,174)
  • Process, plant and machine operatives 18.7% (£3,842)
  • Skilled trades occupations 16.9% (£3,959)
  • Associate professional and technical occupations 16.1% (£5,694)
  • All employees 14.8% (£4,778)

Men on top

Female health professionals have the biggest pay gap at 31%, which works out at more than £16,000 a year. A key reason for the size of the pay gap in health is the earnings of the best-paid professionals. The top male professionals earn nearly £50 an hour – more than twice as much as the top female health professionals, who earn £24.67 an hour.

Women working in culture, media and sport experience the next biggest pay gap at 27.5%, which works out at about £10,000 a year, while women working in manufacturing occupations earn nearly 24% less than men.

Women earn less than men in 32 of the 35 major occupations classified by the Office for National Statistics. Fewer than 50,000 women are employed in the three occupations – transport drivers, electricians and agricultural workers – where they earn more than men.

The gender pay gap across the private sector is 19.9%, far higher than the 13.6% pay gap in the public sector.

Legislation failure

The TUC claims that as four decades of equal pay legislation have only halved – rather than eradicated – the gender pay gap. It says a tougher approach is needed to stop millions of workers losing out on pay and career opportunities, simply because of their gender.

Secrecy over salaries is the sore point. The TUC claims one of the reasons for the gender pay gap is the lack of transparency in pay systems that allow companies to pay women less than men, without staff being aware of it.

Only one in 100 companies voluntarily publishing equal pay information. The TUC wants the government to legislate to force companies to publish equal pay audits alongside their annual company reports.

Working hours

The trade unionists also want more senior level part-time jobs to help women to continue their careers after having children. The TUC claims too many women today are forced to trade down their jobs and abandon their careers in order to find working hours that fit around childcare arrangements.

The TUC wants the government to boost the availability of senior part-time jobs by encouraging employers to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis where possible. The government can take the initiative by making it a requirement for all public sector job vacancies, the TUC argues.

The government should also strengthen the right to request flexible working by removing the six-month qualifying period and making it available to employees on the day they start a new job.

Injustice

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "It is a huge injustice that women are still earning on average almost £5,000 a year less than men. This pay gap can add up to hundreds of thousands over the course of a woman's career.

"The gender pay gap, which continues despite decades of girls outperforming boys at school and on to university, is also a huge economic failure. It is crazy that employers miss out on billions of pounds worth of women's talent, skills and experience every year.

"Four decades on from the Equal Pay Act coming into effect, it's clear we need to take a tougher approach so that future generations of women don't suffer the same penalties.

"One simple way would be to force companies to be more transparent about how they pay staff. Pay transparency and pay audits would give employers the evidence they need to finally take closing the pay gap seriously."

Modern British women

Charlie Woodworth of the Fawcett Society said: "It is scandalous that in modern Britain women can expect to take home just 85p for every pound men earn. The persistent gap in pay shows just how far we have to go when it comes to achieving equality between the sexes.

"In recent years, progress on closing the gap has begun to slow. As austerity bites we now face the very real danger the gap will widen, as more and more women find themselves forced out of the public sector and onto the dole or into the private sector workforce – where the pay gap stands at 20%.

"The labour market is experiencing dramatic change, and women are bearing the brunt of cuts to jobs. If the government doesn't address this growing problem, we risk returning to a much more male dominated workforce, with record numbers of women unemployed, those in work typically earning less, and the gap in pay between women and men beginning to grow instead of shrink."

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