HR · 23 March 2018

Trade unions urge government action on gender pay gap

The TUC has called for an end to the “motherhood pay penalty”

The TUC has urged the government to do more to close the gender pay gap, as new research reveals women earn less money than men at every stage of their career.

The TUC said the gender pay gap is at its widest when a woman hits the age of 50, when the average woman working full-time will earn £8,421 a year less than the average full-time working man.

However, the gap begins as soon as women enter the workforce at 18 years old.

The analysis revealed that the average young woman aged 18 to 21 working full-time starts her career on the back foot financially, earning £1,845 less than her male peers.

Women aged 22 to 29 years old working full-time can expect to earn £2,305 less than full-time working men their age. The gap then leaps from £3,670 a year at age 30 to £7,400 at age 40, reflecting the impact of motherhood on women’s earnings.

To address the pay gap the TUC called on the government to toughen up gender pay gap reporting by increasing resources for enforcement.

It wants the government to introduce immediate fines for non-compliance and require employers to publish action plans alongside their figures. Smaller employers should also be required to report, it said.

Read more: Gender pay gap narrowing amongst freelancers and self-employed

The TUC also wants the government to end the “motherhood pay penalty” by tackling pregnancy discrimination, giving dads better opportunities to share parental leave and working with employers to create more well-paid part-time jobs.

There should also be improved pay for “women’s work” through investing in key sectors like social and nursery care and mandatory equal pay audits.

“Women suffer a huge pay penalty over the course of their lives, starting as soon as they set foot on the career ladder. Having children and caring responsibilities has a massive impact on a woman’s earnings, said TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady.

“Far more needs to be done to help mums get back into decent, well-paid jobs after they have kids – and to encourage dads to take on their share of caring responsibilities.

“We are also crying out for higher wages in jobs predominantly done by women, like childcare and social care. Until we do, women will continue to lose out financially and many will have to make the choice between having a family or a career.”

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