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International Women’s Day: the day women finally get paid this year

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
International Women’s Day marks the achievements of women’s rights, but the day also coincides with the average female getting paid for the first time this year, compared to men.

Women effectively work for free for the first 67 days of the year due to the gender pay gap which stands at 18.4% for full-time and part-time employees.

This means today’s celebration and commemoration of the movement for women’s rights is tainted by research which suggests it takes women more than two months to be paid for work equal to men.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) analysis found that even in industries dominated by female workers, the gender pay gap is even bigger, which is why women’s pay day falls later in the year.

For instance, in education, the gender pay gap is currently 26.5%, so the average woman effectively works for free for more than a quarter of the year (97 days) and has to wait until the 7 April before she starts earning the same as the average man.

In health and social work, the average woman waits 69 days for pay day on 10 March.

The longest wait for women’s pay day comes in finance and insurance. There the gender pay gap is the equivalent of 130 days – more than a third of the year – before women’s pay day finally kicks in on 10 May.

Since 2011, the full-time pay gap has fallen by just 0.2 percentage points a year. At this rate, the TUC calculated it will take more than 40 years to achieve pay parity between men and women.

From 1 April 2017, the government ruled that large companies have to publish information about the difference between average male and female earnings. The deadline for reporting is next month but the TUC believes the government must go further and wants employers to be made to carry out equal pay audits, and to produce action plans to close the pay gap in their workplace. The TUC also wants companies that fail to comply with the law to receive instant fines.

TUC General Secretary, Frances O’Grady, said: “Nearly 50 years since the Ford machinists went on strike at Dagenham, the UK still has one of the worst gender pay gaps in Europe. Women effectively work for free for two months a year.

“Companies publishing information on their gender pay gaps is a small step in the right direction but it’s nowhere near enough. Women in the UK will only start to get paid properly when we have better-paid part-time and flexible jobs and higher wages in key sectors like social care.”

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