Women to ‘work for free’ until 2016

A stressed office lady

Women will effectively work for free from today until the end of the year due to the difference between average male and female earnings.

‘Equal pay day’ falls five days later this year than in 2014, as the gender pay gap has closed slightly, but women working full-time still earn 37% less than their male counterparts.

The median salary for a woman working full time is £17,103, compared to £27,162 for men, according to the latest Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings, from the Office for National Statistics.

The Fawcett Society, a campaigning group for women’s rights in the workplace, says at the current pace it will take 50 years for the gender pay gap to close completely.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “There has never been a better opportunity to close the pay gap for good. Progress has stalled in recent years but with real commitment for government and employers, together with action from women and men at work, we could speed up progress towards the day when we can consign it to history.”

Separate research out today from the Trade Union Congress (TUC) says the pay gap is greater among high earners; while the gap is greater still among older workers – meaning as women progress in their careers, they face greater pay disparity.

Among the top 5% of earners, men typically earn 45.9% more than women, rising to 52.9% among the top 2%.

"It is shocking the UK still has such a large gender pay differences at the top of the labour market after more than four decades of equal pay and sex discrimination legislation," said Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC.

Both the TUC and Fawcett Society called for greater transparency around pay to close the gap further.

Smethers added: “The message to women and men at work is – it’s OK to talk about pay.  How can we achieve pay equality if we don’t even know what our colleagues earn?  It is time to have the conversation and ask your employer if they are ready for the new pay gap reporting requirements.”

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