From 3.34pm until the end of the year female staff are effectively little more than ‘skivvies’ due to the disparity between their pay rates and those of equivalent males. Neil Hodgson reports
Women will work for nothing from this Friday afternoon according to the latest figures on the UK’s gender pay gap.
From 3.34pm until the end of the year female staff are effectively little more than “skivvies” due to the disparity between their pay rates and those of equivalent males.
November 10 is the annual Equal Pay Day for 2017, based on the fact that the mean full-time pay gap currently stands at 14.1%, or 85p for a woman compared with every £1 a man earns.
That means that from 3.34pm on Friday, women effectively stop being paid.
Liverpool’s The Women’s Organisation, which supports female entrepreneurs throughout the region, is marking this year’s Equal Pay Day with the slogan ‘3.34 – we’re out the door’, in a bid to highlight the pay gap and the woefully slow progress to close it, despite the passing of the Equal Pay Act in 1970 – 47 years ago.
Although this year’s Equal Pay Day falls one day later than last year, it is estimated it could take decades to close the pay gap completely for UK women, and economic monitoring group The World Economic Forum (WEF) says it could take more than a century, globally.
Studies by The Fawcett Society, a UK charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights since 1866, show just how pernicious the current system is.
It says the gender pay gap is at its lowest for women in their 20s (5.5%), but opens up significantly for women in their 50s (18.6%).
It also differs across industries, standing at 32.8% in finance and insurance, but less than 6% for those working in administrative and support services.
Speaking last year The Fawcett Society chief executive, Sam Smethers, said: “As we mark Equal Pay Day this year we are focusing on the fundamental question of who and what we value and asking why we don’t value women and the work they do, paid or unpaid.
“Equal value goes to the heart of the fight for pay equality because the reality is that if it is a sector dominated by women, the pay will be lower.”
Closing the gender pay gap also makes economic sense. The latest WEF figures indicate that pay parity for women could add £250bn to the UK’s GDP.
Maggie O’Carroll, co-founder and chief executive of The Women’s Organisation, said: “Progress to close the gender gap is not just slow, it is glacial. Things must move quicker if we are ever to achieve gender equality and parity.
“Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed 47 years ago we are still seeing businesses persistently pay women less than their male counterparts for doing the same work.
“Although reasons for the pay gap are many and complex, the bottom line is that businesses should be forced to publish their pay audits, and then be held accountable for their actions by the Government and the law.”
The Fawcett Society has suggested a range of measures to narrow the pay gap, including:
- Mandatory gender pay gap reporting means that all larger employers need to publish their pay gap by April 2018. To ensure this step genuinely tackles the pay gap there should also be a requirement to publish an action plan on how employers will close the gap and there must be penalties for those who don’t follow the new rules.
- Businesses who are serious about tackling discrimination should conduct equal pay audits, going further into their data and the nature of job roles to make sure men and women are paid equal pay for work of equal value.
- Businesses should be required to advertise job roles as flexible by default, unless there is a strong business case not to do so.
- Over 60% of those earning less than the real living wage are women – we urge more businesses to become a real living wage employer.
- We need to challenge the segregation of men into higher-paying occupations and women into lower-paying occupations, starting with encouraging more women into STEM subjects at school age.
- And we need to increase the value placed on – and wages paid for – roles which women are highly represented in, such as care work.