From the TUC

Women’s Pay Day: 66 days before you start getting paid?

03 Mar 2017, by in Equality

Spring is in the air, the blossom is on the trees, and we’re nearly a fifth of the way through 2017. So you might be surprised to learn that the average woman still hasn’t been paid for her work this year.

Yes, you read that right. New analysis we’re publishing today shows that the average woman has to wait nearly a fifth of a year (66 days) before she starts to get paid, compared to the average man.

The gender pay gap

This is because the gender pay gap for all full-time and part-time male and female employees currently stands at 18%. This pay gap means that across the board women effectively work for free for the first 66 days of the year, until Women’s Pay Day on Tuesday (7 March).

And if that wasn’t bad enough, in a number of key industries – even in jobs dominated by female workers – women have to wait until even later in the year for their Women’s Pay Day:

  • In education, the gender pay gap is 27%, 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.
  • In health and social work, the average woman waits 69 days for her Women’s 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 a whopping 137 days – more than a third of the year – before Women’s Pay Day kicks in on 17 May.

Since 2011 the full-time pay gap has fallen by a paltry 0.2 percentage points a year. At this rate it will take more than 40 years to achieve pay parity between men and women – meaning that not only this generation but also the next will lose out on a huge chunk of wages over their working lives.

Why is this happening?

Companies that aren’t paying their female staff the same as men for work of equal value are breaking the law and should be challenged. But with Employment Tribunal fees of £1,200, too few women can afford to access justice when bad bosses break the rules.

Many women find it difficult to break into better paid, male-dominated professions, and we undervalue and underpay vital jobs that are predominantly done by women, like social care and childcare. And it is still too hard for many women to get back into decently-paid jobs after having children.

What should the government do?

From next month (1 April), large companies will have to publish information about the difference between average male and female earnings in their workplaces. But the government must go a lot further to really get a grip on the gender pay gap and:

  • End discriminatory pay through equal pay audits, sanctions on employers who break the law, and ending employment tribunal fees so women can access justice.
  • Tackle job segregation by getting more women into better paid jobs like engineering and finance.
  • Improve pay for “women’s work” through valuing important jobs done by predominantly female staff, like nursery nurses or carers, by increasing pay, progression and status.
  • Tackle the motherhood pay penalty by challenging pregnancy discrimination, improving access to flexible work, creating more well-paid, high-skilled part-time jobs and giving dads better opportunities to share parental leave and work flexibly.