Women working full-time still earn almost £5,000 a year less than men, though the pay gap in some jobs is three times bigger, according to a TUC analysis of official figures published to mark Equal Pay Day.
Equal Pay Day marks the point at which women working full-time effectively stop earning as they are paid 15 percent less per hour than men working full-time. But in certain professions the gender pay gap is much wider, says the TUC.
According to the research, female health professionals have the biggest pay gap at 31 percent, which works out at £16,000 a year. A key reason for the size of the pay gap in health is the earnings of the best-paid professionals. Top male professionals in health earn nearly £50 an hour, twice as much as top earning women who earn £24.67 an hour.
Women working in culture, media and sport experience the next biggest pay gap at 27.5 percent – which works out at £10,000 a year – while women working in manufacturing occupations earn nearly 24 percent less than men.
Women earn less than men in 32 of the 35 major occupations classified by the Office for National Statistics. The three major occupations where women earn more than men – transport drivers, electricians and agricultural workers – are all male dominated. Fewer than 50,000 women are employed in these sectors, compared to 1.5 million men.
The gender pay gap across the private sector is 19.9 percent, far higher than the 13.6 percent pay gap in the public sector and even bigger for women working part-time, who earn 35 percent less per hour than men working full-time.
The TUC believes that as four decades of equal pay legislation have only halved – rather than eradicated – the gender pay gap, a tougher approach is needed to stop millions of workers losing out on pay and career opportunities, simply because of their gender.
One of the reasons for the gender pay gap is the lack of transparency in pay systems that allow companies to pay female employees less than their male colleagues, without staff even being aware of it, says the TUC. Publishing annual gender pay gap information and conducting regular pay audits would enable companies to identify any gender pay gaps, and take action to close them.
However, with just one in 100 companies voluntarily publishing equal pay information, the TUC wants the Government to legislate and make audits compulsory additions to annual company reports.
More senior level part-time jobs are also needed to help women continue their careers after having children, says the TUC. Too many women are forced to trade down their jobs and abandon their careers just to find working hours that can fit around their childcare arrangements.
The TUC wants the Government to boost the availability of more senior part-time jobs by encouraging employers to advertise all jobs on a flexible basis where possible. Ministers could take the initiative by making it a requirement for all public sector job vacancies, says the TUC.
The Government should also strengthen the right to request flexible working by removing the six month qualifying period and making it available to employees on the day they start a new job.