Women’s Pay Day reveals ‘shameful’ gender pay gap

Today is when the average woman stops working for free this year compared to the average man


Today, Wednesday 21st February, is the day when the average woman stops working for free compared to the average man.

According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), the average woman in the UK effectively works for free nearly two months of the year due to gender wage disparity, which currently stands at 14.3%. 

More disheartening perhaps is the fact the trade union body has calculated it would take 20 years to close the gender pay gap, based on the current rates of progress. 

This has emphasised the importance of Labour’s New Deal for Working People, the TUC said, which would provide a “huge boost” for working women with the introduction of fair pay agreements in social care, banning zero-hour contracts and mandatory action plans to close the gender pay gap.  

“It’s shameful that working women don’t have pay parity in 2024,” said TUC general secretary Paul Nowak. “That’s not right. We can’t consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality.”

Nowak warned the Labour Party to ignore “corporate scaremongering” this week after reports that business lobbyists were pushing the party to scale back on its promised, transformative new deal for workers. 

Trade union leaders have hailed the new deal as a potential turning point in the future of workers’ rights in the UK, as Nowak said it “stands in stark contrast to the Conservative’s dire record”. 

The gender pay gap varies largely by industry, with women in finance and insurance suffering the widest disparity of 27.9% pay gap, translating into working for free compared to their male colleagues until the 10th April. 

In industries where women workers are more prevalent, like education and care, the gender pay gap remains, which the TUC attributed to women being more likely to work part-time and because women tend to be employed in lower-paid roles than men. 

As women get older the pay gap widens. For middle aged women between 50 and 59 the pay gap is widest at nearly 20%. The TUC puts this down to older women being more likely to take on caring responsibilities and thus a bigger financial hit.

Over the past five years the gender pay gap has fallen by just 0.7% a year, with data on annual hours and earnings from the Office for National Statistics used to calculate the results of the research. Reporting on gender pay first started in 2017.

Last year the Women’s Pay Day fell on Thursday 23 February. 

(Image credit: Samwalton9 / wikimedia)

Hannah Davenport is news reporter at Left Foot Forward, focusing on trade unions and environmental issues

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