From education to employment

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

female on laptop
  • New TUC analysis reveals Women’s Pay Day – the day when the average woman stops working for free compared to the average man – is today (Thursday)
  • In parts of the country and in some industries where the gender pay gap is wider, women effectively work for free for even longer
  • TUC calls on ministers to boost rights to flexible working, and for cash injection for childcare sector

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 analysis published by the TUC today (Thursday).

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

Gender pay gap by age

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. 

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 (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.

Industrial gender pay gaps

Despite the introduction of gender pay gap reporting back in 2017, the analysis published by the TUC today shows that there are still big gender pay gaps in many industries.

Even in jobs that tend to be dominated by female workers like education and healthcare 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 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.

Sector Response

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said:

“Working women deserve equal pay. But at current rates of progress, it will take more than 20 years to close the gender pay gap.

“That’s just not good enough. 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 action plans to explain what steps they’ll take to close their pay gaps. And bosses who don’t comply with the law should be fined.

“The pandemic highlighted that we can do more to help women balance their caring responsibilities and work. Flexible working is key to keeping mums in jobs and is our best way of closing the gender pay gap.

“We should change the law so that all jobs are advertised with all the possible flexible options clearly stated. And all workers must have the legal right to work flexibly from their first day in a job.”

On childcare and parental leave, Paul added:

“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.”

Kelly Metcalf, Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Wellbeing at Fujitsu said:

“It’s disappointing but unfortunately not surprising to see the findings of this report. The fact that women with children effectively work for free for nearly two months of the year is a sobering reminder of the ongoing inequality in workplaces. It is unacceptable that women continue to be penalized for taking time off to have children or working part-time to balance their caregiving responsibilities. We must do more as a society and as business leaders to create more flexible and inclusive workplaces that support all employees, regardless of their gender or family status.

“This includes addressing the gender pay gap head-on, as well as providing better parental leave policies for parents of all genders, affordable childcare options, and opportunities for career development and advancement. They must take a gender inclusive approach to hiring, such as having gender-diverse interview panels, provide inclusion training to all managers and hiring managers and ensuring the culture and environment is inclusive and flexible for all. Only then can we close the gap and ensure that all employees, regardless of gender, have equal opportunities to thrive in the workplace and ensure organisations benefit from the biggest available talent pool.

“Empowering women starts with inspiring and engaging future generations. Fujitsu’s ‘Girls Days’ initiative, for example, encourages girls to participate in STEM activities and pursue careers in STEM. It is also important to create a diverse range of role models to inspire young girls to pursue their goals. Gender-diverse representation encourages female role models to share their experiences and for children to believe in their own ability to achieve the same.”

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