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Equal Pay Day: women ‘working for free’ until 2017

November 10 2016

Today, Thursday 10 November 2016, is Equal Pay Day. This is the symbolic day each year when women effectively begin working for free for the rest of the year, due to the gender pay gap.

Equal Pay Day this year has been calculated by The Fawcett Society, using the mean full-time gender pay gap, which is currently 13.9 per cent.

Equal Pay Day has fallen one day later in 2016 than in 2015, which means the gender pay gap is closing. However, the current rate at which the gap is closing means it will take more than 60 years for the pay gap to close entirely.

Sam Smethers, Chief Executive of The Fawcett Society, said: “We won’t finally close the gender pay gap until we end pay discrimination, address the unequal impact of caring roles, tackle occupational segregation and routinely open up senior roles to women.”

Data published in October by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) revealed the median gender pay gap for full-time employees was 9.4 per cent in 2016. This means that the average pay for full-time female employees was 9.4 per cent lower than that for men working full-time. In 1997, this gap was 17.4 per cent.

The gap for all employees – full-time and part-time – in 2016 was 18.1 per cent, down from 19.3 per cent in 2015. This is also down from 27.5 per cent in 1997.

The main reasons that account for the gender pay gap are thought to be part-time work, the type of occupation, and having and caring for children.

Between April and June this year, 41 per cent of women were in part-time work, compared to just 12 per cent of men. The gender pay gap for part-time employees in 2016 was minus six per cent, meaning women working part-time actually earned six per cent more than men in part-time work.

There are a higher proportion of women than men working in sectors such as administration and caring, and these sectors tend to be lower paid.

When looking at pay differences by age, the gap is relatively small up to and including those aged 30 to 39, but becomes much wider from 40 upwards. This is thought to be linked to women taking time out of work to have children.

When statistics were released by the ONS in October, TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady commented on the slow rate the gender pay gap was falling at, just 0.2 percentage points between 2015 and 2016.

“The full-time gender pay gap is closing at a snail’s pace. At this rate it will take decades for women to get paid the same as men,” Ms O’Grady said.

“The government should also scrap tribunal fees, which stop women getting justice from bad employers who have discriminated against them.”

GMB and CWU members can receive advice on discrimination at work, including equal pay, from our employment team. Call us now on 0300 333 0303