The average gender pay gap for full-time workers stands at 8.6% – its lowest level yet, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).
The ONS says that between April 2017 and April 2018 the gap fell from 9.1%.
The figures differ for different age groups. In the 22-29 age group, women earn just 1.3% less than men. However, in the 50-59 year-old group, women earn an average of 15.5% less than men.
The TUC called the fall “negligible” and said change wasn’t happening fast enough. The TUC calculates it will take 55 years to get to pay parity at the current rate of progress.
It pointed out that the overall pay gap is much wider than the full-time employee pay gap because it includes the 5.3 million female employees who work part-time and are more likely to be low-paid. On average women who work part-time earn £5.34 less per hour than full-time men, it says. The pay gap between male and female part timers stands at -4.4% since more women in higher paid jobs work part time.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Working women won’t be celebrating this negligible decrease in the gender pay gap. At this rate, another generation of women will spend their whole working lives waiting to be paid the same as men.
“The government needs to crank up the pressure on employers. Companies shouldn’t just be made to publish their gender pay gaps, they should be legally required to explain how they’ll close them.
“And bosses who flout the law should be fined.”
Meanwhile, four women are preparing to take the BBC to an employment tribunal over its slow grievance process regarding the gender pay gap at the corporation. Dozens more staff are understood to be considering similar action. So far, of the 78 staff who lodged formal grievances, seven have been offered pay increases.
In addition, a High Court ruling on Friday could mean British business have to pay out billions to equalise pensions for men and women. The ruling against Lloyds Banking Group could cost the firm up to £150 million to not just equalise current payments but redress historical pension payments plus interest.
Action on the gender pay gap is taking place across Europe. Icelandic Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir joined a nationwide protest on Wednesday against wage inequality and sexual harassment and urged her staff to do likewise. The demonstration saw Icelandic women walk out of their workplaces at precisely 2:55 p.m. The chosen time is equivalent to women working for 74% of a standard eight-hour day and reflects the fact that women typically earn 26% less than men in Iceland. It’s the fifth time that women in Iceland have staged a mass walkout in protest of the gender pay gap since 1975. The slogan for this year’s event was “Don’t change women, change the world.”
Yesterday the European commissioner in charge of equality, Vĕra Jourová, said she was disappointed the pay gap between male and female earnings [including part-time work] was stagnating across the EU, with the UK one of the worst performers.
Another survey out today shows the pressures on high-flying women after childbirth which contribute to the gender pay gap. Workingmums.co.uk’s research shows many women resign and take lower paid jobs after having children due to lack of flexibility and support. MMB magazine’s survey of over 1,000 women who are mainly management level or above shows less than a fifth (18 per cent) felt happy and confident about returning to work. Some 37 per cent felt so unsupported and isolated on their return they considered handing in their notice and 90 per cent were not offered any formal support to return.