Women in the UK work for free for two months a year due to the gender pay gap, analysis by the Trade Union Congress (TUC) has found.
The gender pay gap is 17.3% for all employees meaning the average woman works for free for 63 days a year, according to the TUC analysis of the Office for National Statistics’ annual survey for hours and earnings.
The TUC has dubbed Wednesday 4 March 2020 “Women’s Pay Day” — effectively the first day of the year that the average woman begins to get paid.
The gender pay gap looms large even in industries dominated by female workers such as education and social care. In education the gender pay gap stands at 25.4%, so the average woman works for free for 93 days a year, according to the TUC.
Female employees in professional, scientific and technical jobs spend 88 days a year working for free.
Women in finance and insurance spend the longest working for free as the gender pay gap in these industries is the equivalent of 123 days — meaning it’s more than a third of the year before they reach Women’s Pay Day on 3 May 2020.
Some parts of the country have bigger gender pay gaps due to differences in the types of jobs and industries that are most common in that region.
The widest gender pay gap is in South East where the pay gap stands at 20.5%. So women in that part of the country will have to wait until Sunday 15 March for their Women’s Pay Day.
The gender pay gap in the East Midlands and the East of England is also above average, at 18.9% and 19% respectively.
Northern Ireland clocks in the smallest gender pay gap at 10.1%, meaning women there work for free for an average of 37 days a year. In Scotland the pay gap is 14.3% and in Wales it stands at 14.5%.
The gender pay gap has decreased by an average of just 0.4 percentage points a year since 2011. At this rate it will take around 50 years — until 2067 — to achieve pay parity between men and women.
A government ruling in 2017 compels large companies to publish information about the difference between the average earnings of their male and female employees.
The TUC is calling on the government to go further and make employers carry out equal pay audits, and to produce action plans to close the pay gap in their workplace, with companies that fail to comply receiving instant fines.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Our economy is stacked against working women. At this rate, it will take another 50 years to close the gender pay gap.
“No more excuses: government must get on and sort the gender pay gap now.
“Just publishing gender pay gaps isn’t enough. Companies must be required to explain what steps they’ll take to close their gender pay gaps — and bosses who don’t comply with the law should be fined.
“And employers must do more to help women balance family responsibilities and work. Flexible working should be a day one right for everyone at work.”