Women's Pay Day | Gender pay gap means women work first two months of the year 'for free'

Gender pay gap means women work first two months of the year 'for free'

The average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man, gender pay gap for all employees currently at 14.3%, new research has revealed.

This pay gap means that working women waits 52 days before they stopped working for free on Women’s Pay Day, marked today on February 21st.

And the new analysis from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) also shows that at current rates of progress, it will take 20 years – until 2044 – to close the gender pay gap.

Industrial gender pay gaps

Gender pay gap reporting was introduced back in 2017. However, the TUC analysis shows that – some seven years later – there are still big gender pay gaps in many industries.

And this gap persists even in jobs dominated by female workers like in education and care.

The union body says this is partly because women are more likely to work part-time, where working fewer hours means they earn less overall. And also, because women tend to be employed in lower-paid roles than men.

  • In education the gender pay gap is 21.3%, so the average woman effectively works for free for nearly a fifth of the year (78 days) until St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2024.

  • In health care and social work, where the gender pay gap is 12.6%, the average woman works for free for 46 days until Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2024.

The longest wait for Women’s Pay Day comes in finance and insurance. The gender pay gap (27.9%) is the equivalent of a whopping 102 days, meaning women work for free until Wednesday 10 April 2024.

Gender pay gap by age

The TUC analysis shows that the gender pay gap affects women throughout their careers, from their first step on the ladder until they take retirement.

The gender pay gap is widest for middle aged and older women:

  • Women aged 40 to 49 have a gender pay gap of 17%, so work 62 days for free until Tuesday 2 March 2024.

  • Women aged between 50 and 59 have the highest pay gap (19.7%) and work the equivalent of 72 days for free, until Monday 11 March 2024.

  • Women aged 60 and over have a gender pay gap of 18.1%. They work 66 days of the year for free before they stop working for free on Wednesday 6 March 2024.

The TUC says the gender pay gap widens as women get older, due to women being more likely to take on caring responsibilities. And that older women take a bigger financial hit for balancing work alongside caring for children, older relatives and/or grandchildren.

Regional gender pay gaps

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 (18.9%). Women in this region work 69 days for free and they work for free until Friday 8 March 2024.

  • Women in the East of England (17.7% pay gap) and the East Midlands (17.4%) also work for free until next month (Monday 4 March and Sunday 3 March 2024).

The TUC explains that regional variations in the 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, and gender differences in who does these jobs.

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: “Everyone should be paid fairly for the job that they do. It’s shameful that working women don’t have pay parity in 2024. And at current rates of progress, it will take another two decades to close the gender pay gap.

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“That's not right. We can’t consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality.

“It’s clear that just publishing gender pay gaps isn’t working. Companies must be required to publish and implement action plans to close their pay gaps. And bosses who don’t comply with the law should be fined."

The TUC continues to back the Labour Party's plans for a 'New Deal for Working People', which Novak said would be a huge boost to working women.

“It would introduce a day one right to flexible working and fair pay agreements to boost pay and conditions in social care – which we know is a predominantly female workforce," he said, adding: “It would also see mandatory action plans to close the gender pay gap and extending reporting to disability and ethnicity pay gaps.”

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