TUC analysis marks the point up to which women in the UK effectively work for free due to the gender pay gap. The TUC has also released a new call for financial support for those affected by coronavirus who don’t qualify for statutory sick pay.
The average woman effectively works for free for two months of the year compared to the average man, according to analysis published by the TUC.
The gender pay gap for all employees is 17.3%. This pay gap means that women have to wait 63 days before they start to get paid on Women’s Pay Day today.
The analysis published today shows that there are still big gender pay gaps in many industries.
Even in jobs dominated by female workers like education and social care the gender pay gap persists. In these sectors women get paid much less per hour on average than men, both because they are more likely to be in part-time jobs or are in lower-paid roles.
In education the TUC says the gender pay gap is 25.4%, so the average woman effectively works for free for more than a quarter of the year (93 days) and has to wait until Thursday 2 April 2020 before she starts getting paid compared to the average man.
In professional, scientific and technical jobs, the average woman waits 88 days for her Women’s Pay Day on 28 March 2020.
The longest wait for Women’s Pay Day comes in finance and insurance, says the TUC. The gender pay gap is the equivalent of 123 days, meaning it’s more than a third of the year before Women’s Pay Day finally kicks in on 3 May 2020.
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.
In the South East the gender pay gap is 20.5%, so Women’s Pay Day in that part of the country won’t fall for another 12 days (Sunday 15 March). And women in the East Midlands (18.9%) and the East of England (19% pay gap) have to wait until next week (9 and 10 March) for their Women’s Pay Day.
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 UK, says the TUC.
Meanwhile, the TUC is urging the government to provide support for workers who don’t qualify for statutory sick pay as a widespread coronavirus outbreak looms. People on low incomes, zero-hours contracts and the self-employed who may not qualify might be tempted to attend work if no benefits were offered, said the union organisation. “We all want people to follow the government’s health advice,” said TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady. “No-one should be out of pocket for doing the right thing.”
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has said Universal Credit might be available for those kept from work. The CIPD says employers ought to go above and beyond the letter of the law. “Employers must place the health and wellbeing of staff at the heart of their contingency planning and response,” said Ben Willmott, head of public policy at the CIPD. “We recommend that businesses are as generous with their sick pay and leave policies as possible, both to support staff health and wellbeing, and to minimise any impact on their pay.”
Bakery chain Greggs has said it will be paying its workers who are required to self-isolate. CEO Roger Whiteside said: “Our default position is that we pay contract hours. We don’t have any zero contract hours.”
Boris Johnson has warned that as much as a fifth of the UK’s workforce could be forced to take sick leave at the same time as a result of the coronavirus and the Government has announced that people who self-isolate as a result of coronavirus fears can get statutory sick pay from day one if eligible.
UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis called on the Government to go further, faster. He said: “This move won’t help care staff whose employers are telling them they won’t get paid at all if they go into isolation.
“Nor will it provide comfort to workers on zero-hours contracts, or those with multiple jobs bringing in less than the £118 weekly threshold at which sick pay kicks in.
“Workers self-isolating shouldn’t have to take a financial hit for doing the right thing. They should be paid in full, with the government stepping in to help out struggling smaller employers.
“Every boss in the land should be following government advice and paying everyone who thinks they’ve come into contact with coronavirus and sensibly intends to do the right thing.
“People shouldn’t be faced with a choice of making ends meet or following public health advice and helping prevent the spread of the virus. The lives and livelihoods of vulnerable patients and staff must come before profits.”