Equality campaigners and unions have today presented a giant cheque to Gordon Brown as a symbol of the gender pay gap.
As part of Equal Pay Day, the Fawcett Society, Unison and the National Union of Students delivered the cheque to the prime minister to highlight that the continuing gender pay gap effectively meant today was women’s last pay cheque of the year.
The full-time gender pay gap is currently 17.1%. The Equality Bill, which is currently going through the House of Commons, will force employers to publish their pay gaps by 2013, if not enough progress has been made voluntarily.
Ceri Goddard, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, called on the government to enforce gender pay gap reporting.
She said: “As a result of the 17.1% full-time gender pay gap, 30 October marks the point in the year when women across Britain can be said to be working for free. We cannot let this continue.
“The Equality Bill offers a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform equal pay law and stamp out the pay gap. We urge the government to place a legal duty on employers to check for and rectify any gender pay gap.”
A report by the women’s campaign group found that while the pay gap for both part and full-time work was 21.2%, this more than doubled to a 52.7% gap in west Somerset.
In contrast to this, the pay gap for both full and part-time work in London was found to be 1.5%.
The report also revealed the majority of the British public now welcomed the introduction of mandatory gender pay audits to address the gender pay gap, with 89% of women and 81% of men supporting the introduction of a legal requirement on employers to report their gender pay gaps.
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, added: “Forty years after the Equal Pay Act, it is a disgrace that women still earn 17.1% less than men. To speed up this glacial progress towards fairness for women, the government must toughen up the Equality Bill.”
Prentis backed the Fawcett’s Society’s calls for mandatory gender pay audits and also called on the government to allow women to bring group action in court.