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Gender pay gap: Women work for free for two months of the year

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/12/03: Protesters hold an 'End The Gender Pay Gap' banner during the demonstration in Bloomsbury.
University staff members of the University and College Union (UCU) have taken strike action and marched through Central London in protest over gender, ethnic and disability pay inequality, work conditions, and falling pay. (Photo by Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Protesters hold an 'End The Gender Pay Gap' banner during a demonstration in 2021. Photo: Vuk Valcic/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty

A woman will work for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man in paid employment as the gender pay gap continues to lay bare the disparities in the work place.

The pay gap means that working women must wait 54 days – nearly eight weeks, or two months – for Women’s Pay Day, when they stop working for free, according to analysis published by the TUC.

Women’s Pay Day in 2023 is Thursday 23 February, the date when women start earning relative to men in the UK.

The gender pay gap for all employees currently stands at 14.9%. But 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 at 20.8% and will work the equivalent of 76 days for free, until Thursday 16 March 2023.

Read more: FTSE firms given diversity target of 40% women on boards

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.

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.”

In some industries the pay gap is bigger, even in jobs that tend to be dominated by female workers like education and healthcare.

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 in this industry stands at 31.2% and is the equivalent of 114 days, meaning women work for free for nearly a third of the year until Sunday 23 April 2023.

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Nowak added: “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.”

Regionally, the gender pay gap is largest in the South East of England at 17.9%. Women in this region work 65 days for free until Monday 6 March 2023.

Women in the East of England, where the pay gap is 17.5%, and the East Midlands, with 16.6%, also work for free until next month, until Saturday 4 March and Wednesday 1 March respectively.

Watch: Why do we still have a gender pay gap?

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