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TUC says gender pay gap is still 'decades' away from being closed

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said the Government needs to 'crank up the pressure on employers'

Josie Cox
Business Editor
Thursday 26 October 2017 10:47 BST
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Since 2011 the full-time pay gap has fallen by an average of just 0.2 percentage points annually
Since 2011 the full-time pay gap has fallen by an average of just 0.2 percentage points annually (PA)

The UK gender pay gap is still “decades” away from being closed, the TUC has warned, after official data showed that the difference between men’s and women’s pay had shrunk marginally this year.

Government data published on Thursday showed that the full-time median gender pay gap had fallen by 0.3 percentage points to 9.1 per cent in 2017, which was down from 9.4 per cent in 2016 and the lowest since the Office for National Statistics started recording that figure in 1997.

“The full-time gender pay gap has inched a bit smaller. But there is still a chasm between men and women’s earnings,” TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said. “At this rate it'll take decades for women to get paid the same as men.”

Ms O’Grady said the Government needs to “crank up the pressure on employers”.

“Companies shouldn't just be made to publish their gender pay gaps. They should be forced to explain how they’ll close them,” she said.

Under legislation introduced in April, any UK business with at least 250 employees has 12 months to publish data on the difference between how much they pay men and women at different pay grades, but critics have said that the reporting won’t be granular enough to facilitate real change.

The TUC pointed out that since 2011 the full-time pay gap has fallen by an average of just 0.2 percentage points annually, meaning that, at that rate, it would take around forty years to achieve pay parity.

According to the Fawcett Society, one of the UK’s largest charities promoting women’s rights, the pay gap is largely the result of differences in caring responsibilities, women tending to cluster in low-skilled and low-paid work, and – in some instances – outright discrimination.

Patrick Woodman, head of research for the Chartered Management Institute, pointed out that higher up the ranks, the situation is particularly bad. The pay gap for chief executives and senior managers is around 26 per cent, he said.

“The lack of progress for women into more senior roles is one of the biggest causes of this gender pay gap. There’s a huge prize for businesses that get this right, because equal representation of men and women could add £150bn to the UK economy in the next 10 years,” he said.

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