Campaigners mark Equal Pay Day as pay gap stalls

The gender pay gap has stalled generally in the last few years and risen for women in their 20s, according to figures released on Equal Pay Day.

Equal Pay Day is the day in the year when women on an average wage start to work for free compared with their male counterparts.

The Office for National Statistics says the gender pay gap – the mean average for full-time work –  is 14.1%. The Fawcett Society states that figures from 2016 were revised up from 13.9% to 14.1% – meaning that the gap has now been static at that figure for the last three years. The median aggregate figure of 18.4% is up from 18.2% last year.

According to the ONS, older women face the greatest discrimination, with women in their 50s paid on average 18.6% less than their male colleagues. The gap for younger women has been shrinking, but has risen in the last six years , increasing from 1.1% in 2011 to 5.5% this year.

Sam Smethers, the Fawcett Society’s Chief Executive, says: “At current rates of change we will never close the gender pay gap. This shocking lack of progress means without significant action women starting work today and in decades to come will spend their entire working lives earning less than men. It’s a loss they can’t afford and it’s a missed opportunity for our economy. Improving our performance on gender equality in the workplace could increase GDP by £150 billion.”

It is calling on employers to publish their gender pay gaps and explain what they are doing to tackle it, support dads in their organisation to take time off for childcare and take measures to ensure women progress at work. It is also asking individuals to start a conversation about pay with colleagues at work, for women to ask male colleagues what they earn, to ask about flexible working and to ask their employers what the pay gap is in their workplace.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “The government needs to boost pay for undervalued jobs mainly done by women, such as social care. And ministers must do more to remove the barriers that stop women getting jobs in better-paid professions. Employers must help mums and dads share caring responsibilities equally.

“Every woman worker should join a trade union. Unions negotiate fair pay, better rights for mums and dads, and equal treatment for everyone. And if you’re being cheated out of pay because you’re a woman, your union will help you challenge your boss.”

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