More action needed on gender pay gap, says TUC

The TUC has crunched the figures to look at the impact of the gender pay gap by age, sector and region, with older women in the South East worst affected, particularly if they work in financial services.

Illustration of gender pay gap with money and seesaw - FTSE100 directors


The average woman in paid employment effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man in paid employment, according to TUC analysis.

It says the gender pay gap for all employees currently stands at 14.9%. This pay gap means that working women must wait 54 days – nearly two months – before they stop working for free on Women’s Pay Day today.

The TUC analysis shows that the gender pay gap is widest for older women, so they have to wait longer for their Women’s Pay Day.

  • Women aged between 50 and 59 have the highest pay gap (20.8%) and work the equivalent of 76 days for free, until Thursday 16 March 2023.
  • Women aged 60 and over have a gender pay gap of 18.4%. They work 67 days of the year for free before they stop working for free on Wednesday 8 March 2023.

The gender pay gap widens once a woman becomes a mum. And older women take a financial hit for balancing work alongside caring for older relatives as well as children and grandchildren, says the TUC.

The analysis shows that in some parts of the country gender pay gaps are even bigger, so their Women’s Pay Day is later in the year.

  • The gender pay gap is largest in the South East of England (17.9%). Women in this region work 65 days for free and they work for free until Monday 6 March 2023.
  • Women in the East of England (17.5% pay gap) and the East Midlands (16.6%) also work for free until next month (Saturday 4 March and Wednesday 1 March).

Regional variations in the gender pay gap are likely to be caused by differences in the types of jobs and industries that are most common in that part of the country, says the TUC.  Yet even in jobs that tend to be dominated by women like education and healthcare the gender pay gap persists, mainly because they are more likely to be in part-time jobs or are in lower-paid roles.

  • In education the gender pay gap is 22.2%, so the average woman effectively works for free for more than a fifth of the year (81 days) until Wednesday 22 March 2023.
  • In health care and social work jobs, where the gender pay gap is 14%, the average woman works for free for 51 days until Monday 20 February 2023.

The longest wait for Women’s Pay Day comes in finance and insurance. The gender pay gap (31.2%) is the equivalent of 114 days, meaning women work for free for nearly a third of the year until Sunday 23 April 2023.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak called on companies to be forced to publish action plans alongside their pay gap information and said they should be fined if they don’t comply.

He called for a day one right to flexible working and said:  “It’s clear that the gender pay gap widens dramatically once women become mums. We need ministers to fund childcare from the end of maternity leave to support working parents – along with better wages and recognition for childcare workers.

“And both parents need to be able to share responsibility for caring for their kids. Dads and partners need better rights to well-paid leave that they can take in their own right. Otherwise, mums will continue to take on the bulk of caring responsibilities – and continue to take the financial hit.”

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