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Two months’ free labour as women only start earning salary relative to men from today

Written by: Rebecca Goodman
On average women work for free for nearly two months of the year when compared to men, analysis reveals.

The gender pay gap stands at 14.9% for all workers, which effectively means women aren’t paid for 54 days, or eight weeks, of the year. It’s only after those days have passed that their salary becomes equal to the average man.

At the current rate, it will take 20 years until men and women earn equal rates of pay, according to the report from the Trades Union Congress (TUC).

Since 2017 companies with 250+ employees have had to publish their gender pay gap data. Yet the TUC said this isn’t enough and it’s not making companies change the way they pay women.

It is urging the Government to put pressure on companies to publish details of what they plan to do to eradicate the gender pay gap from their workforce.

Further, with data revealing that the pay gap widens dramatically when women have children, it is calling for more investment in the childcare system including support from the point at which most women go back to work, as well as better paid leave for fathers.

The gender pay gap widens for older women

Women aged between 50 and 59 have the highest average gender pay gap of 20.8% which means they work the equivalent of 76 days for free every year.

Those aged 60 and over have a gender pay gap of 18.4%, the equivalent of working for 67 days free per year.

When women become mothers the gender pay gap widens and older women are also impacted by balancing work alongside caring roles for children and elderly relatives.

Women aged 40 to 49 have a gender pay gap of 18.1% on average, compared to 11.7% for those aged 30 to 39, 3.9% for those aged 22 to 29 and 0.6% for those aged 18 to 21.

The report comes just a week after parents were braced for an 8% rise in childcare fees this year.

The largest pay gap is for workers in finance

Those working in finance and insurance have the biggest gender pay gap of 31.2% which means they work for 112 days for free when compared to men.

However, more traditional female industries also have high gender pay gaps. This is because women often get paid much less per hour because they’re more likely to be in part-time or lower-paid jobs.

In education, for example, the gender pay gap is 22.2% while in healthcare and social work it’s 14%.

‘Working women deserve equal pay’

TUC general secretary, Paul Nowak, said: “Working women deserve equal pay. But at current rates of progress, it will take more than 20 years to close the gender pay gap.

“That’s just not good enough. We can’t consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality.

“It’s clear that the gender pay gap widens dramatically once women become mums. We need ministers to fund childcare from the end of maternity leave to support working parents – along with better wages and recognition for childcare workers.

“And both parents need to be able to share responsibility for caring for their kids. Dads and partners need better rights to well-paid leave that they can take in their own right. Otherwise, mums will continue to take on the bulk of caring responsibilities – and continue to take the financial hit.”

Neil Leitch, CEO of the Early Years Alliance, added: “While we recognise that the reasons for this are varied and complex, it’s clear that our broken early years funding system is a huge part of the problem.

“Early years providers are doing their utmost to provide affordable and high-quality education and care – but the fact is that sector funding just doesn’t go far enough. This has created a perfect storm where struggling providers are forced to increase fees, and as a result, more and more mothers feel they have no choice but to sacrifice their careers to save on early years costs.”

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