Today is Equal Pay Day, so how depressing to learn that the gender pay gap has increased. The organisers of the day calculated that for every 12 months a man works, women will have to work for 15 months to earn the same amount. Or how about this statistic; from today until the New Year women will effectively work for free (for the next 57 days) as a result of the gender pay gap.
It is more than 40 years after the Equal pay act and women are still earning less than men. And this year it widened for the first time in five years by .9%.
The economy has clearly had an effect on this gap, affecting women adversely of course. If we look back to the previous government it closed by a third between 1997 and 2010 in the UK. But it since plateaued and is now back on the rise.
One of the problems is how we organise our labour market and make our childcare arrangements. Women are disadvantaged in every way after having children yet there are so many more things we can do to achieve a fairer more balanced market which doesn’t disadvantage women.
It’s deeply embarrassing, frustrating and offensive that a gap not only still exists but has widened. And what message does this send to young women. What about their aspirations?
Significant action needs to be taken to address this stark gap. The Labour Party has said that companies should be required by law to publish full details of the difference in pay between men and women. The Party is calling for a vote to change the policy and to get big companies to publish their pay gap.
A Labour government will introduce the compulsory scheme for companies with 250 or more employees if it wins the next election.
Further action should be required by those companies who publish their difference in pay; they should be urged to also publish targets showing how they will seek to reduce the gap.