Women “work for free for nearly two months” a year, according to fresh analysis which reveals a 15% gender pay gap that widens “dramatically” after women have children.
Women in paid employment earn on average £29,684 a year, compared with the £35,260 a year earned by men. This meant women, on average, effectively work for free for 54 days.
The analysis of figures from the Office for National Statistics found the gender divide on pay was widest for older women. Those aged between 50 and 59 suffered a pay gap of 20.8% – the equivalent of working 76 days a year for free – while women aged over 60 had a gender pay gap of 18.4%.
The TUC’s research found big variations in the gender pay gap across different industries and regions. Women working in finance and insurance suffer a 31.2% pay gap – the equivalent of 114 days, meaning they effectively work for free for nearly a third of the year.
Even in jobs that tend to be dominated by female workers, such as education and healthcare, the gender pay gap persists. In these sectors women get paid much less per hour on average than men, because they are more likely to be in part-time jobs or less senior roles.
In education, the gender pay gap is 22.2%, while in health care and social work it is 14%.
“Working women deserve equal pay. But at current rates of progress, it will take more than 20 years to close the gender pay gap,” Paul Nowak, the TUC’s general secretary, said. “That’s just not good enough. We can’t consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality.”
Joeli Brearley, founder of the campaign group Pregnant Then Screwed, said: “This is a motherhood penalty. Women face maternity discrimination because they are seen as distracted and uncommitted to their jobs when they have children, whereas men actually get paid more after they have children.”