Warnings of widening gender pay gap as women are hit hardest by low pay

Warnings of widening gender pay gap and women hit hardest by low pay

It is Equal Pay Day today (Friday 10th November) – the day in the year which is marked in the calendar as the one where women start to work for free, and the campaigning charity the Fawcett Society has warned that the pay gap is actually widening for some groups of women and will now take 100 years to close, based on the current rate of change. Research by the Living Wage Foundation published to mark the day has also revealed women are hit hardest by low pay in the UK. Women make up nearly two thirds (62 percent) of workers currently struggling to make ends meet on less than the real Living Wage claims the Foundation, which amounts to 3.4 million women compared to 2.1 million men. Nearly 1/3 of all UK working women (26 percent) are still earning less than the Living Wage, compared to just 16 percent of all working men. And this trend has been the case since 2011, when KPMG and the Living Wage Foundation launched its annual Living Wage report.

Further research from the Living Wage Foundation has also found that there are serious consequences for working mothers who earn below the real Living Wage, with four in ten (42 percent) admitting they have skipped meals for financial reasons.

Recent ONS datashows the gender pay gap is not closing. The average for full-time workers stands at 14.1 percent a figure that hasn’t changed in the last three years.

Women’s employment in the UK is highly concentrated in particular industries and occupations and this concentration is a major cause of low pay for women. Cardiff Business School, have recently under gone research looking into the gender impact of the Living Wage and the positive impact the Living Wage plays on women’s incomes in the low pay sector.

The research highlights that females were more likely to be in part-time jobs (77 percent), and found the top occupations in which women are the majority of employees being, general administrative occupations (79.4 percent), personal assistants (97.7 percent) and receptionists (89.2 percent). The results from the research highlight that the Living Wage has substantial positive effects on women’s earning in low pay roles like these.

Commenting on the number of women earning below the real Living Wage and Equal Pay Day, Living Wage Foundation Director, Katherine Chapman said: “These figures show that more can be done to reduce the 3.4 million working women earning less than the real Living Wage across the UK. Women make up nearly two thirds of the 5.5 million people in low paid roles, who are feeling the squeeze as inflation rises. Equal Pay Day highlights the need to keep the conversation going on the realities of the gender pay gap and to encourage more organisations to pay a real Living Wage that will benefit women and part time workers nationwide.

“Earlier this week we announced the new Living Wage rates, which will mean cost of living pay rises for tens of thousands of women. It’s fantastic that over the last 12 months more than 1000 organisations have joined our network of 3,600 Living Wage employer who choose to go beyond the legal minimum and pay a real Living Wage, putting fairness and respect at the heart of their business. I hope next year we will see even more success and less people, both men and women on low wages.”

Announcements by the Living Wage Foundation on Monday revealed that at least 150,000 UK workers are set for a pay rise as the new Living Wage rates rise to £8.75 around the UK, and £10.20 in London.
The Living Wage rates are independently calculated, based on the real cost of living in the UK and London. The 2017 increases have been largely driven by higher inflation feeding through to the basket of goods and services that underpin the rates, with rising private rents and transport costs also having an impact.

The Fawcett Society is calling on everyone to mark today by making a #paygappledge to take action to close the pay gap.

Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society Chief Executive, said: “The pay gap is widest for older women as it grows over our working lives but we are now seeing a widening of the pay gap for younger women too, which suggests we are going backwards and that is extremely worrying”