Today (23 February 2023) is ‘women’s pay day’ – the first day of the year when the average woman effectively stops working for free because of the gender pay gap, according to the TUC.
The UK’s gender pay gap in 2022 was 14.9%, according to the TUC’s analysis of the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). This means that women “work for free” for 54 days when compared with the total annual pay packets of the UK’s male population.
The gender pay gap varies by age and region. It is highest between women and men aged 50 to 59 (20.8%), widening dramatically after women have children, as well as among women in south-east England (17.9%),
Gender pay gap
Finance and insurance has the largest gender pay gap, at 31.2%. This means that women effectively work for free for nearly a third of the year, according to the TUC.
Some of the UK’s biggest banks have revealed widening gender pay gaps in their reports for 2022. HSBC’s median gender pay gap hit 48.8% in 2022, up from the 46.7% reported the previous year, while Lloyds Banking Group saw its median pay gap widen slightly to 34.8% from 34.2% in 2021.
The TUC’s analysis found that the gender pay gap persists even in jobs or sectors with a largely female workforce, often due to women being more likely to take part-time jobs or lower-paid roles. For example, in education the pay gap is 22.2%, while in health and social care the pay gap is 14%.
TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said that greater adoption of flexible working practices to keep more women in jobs once they have children would help close 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,” he said.
“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.”
The government has already committed to making the right to request flexible working a day-one employment right, but no date has been set for its introduction.
Nowak said the gender pay gap reporting requirement, which was introduced in 2017, was not working.
“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,” he said.