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Gender pay gap 'will take 100 years to close' say campaigners

From BBC - November 9, 2017

The gap in pay between men and women will take 100 years to close, a campaign group has warned.

Campaigners highlight Friday as the point at which a woman on an average wage stops being paid relative to their male counterparts.

But in parts of the UK, the gender pay gap is so wide, it is as though women work unpaid from September.

Vivienne Hayes, of the Women's Resource Centre, said progress had moved at a "snail's pace".

Campaign group the Fawcett Society said that progress has in closing the pay gap has "stalled".

If the mean pay gap for full time workers of 14.1% closes at the rate it has over the last five years, it wo not reach 0% until 2117, it said.

The government wants large firms to disclose their pay gap, but will not force them to comply.

Ms Hayes, chief executive of charity the Women's Resource Centre, said: "We are here again, year after year lamenting the seemingly impervious issue of equal pay for men and women.

"Even though we have had a law since 1970 outlawing the practice of sex discrimination in pay, our progress is probably not even at a snail's pace."

Why does it differ from area to area?

There are different ways of calculating the pay gap.

For example, for full time workers. the gap based on median hourly earnings has narrowed to its smallest for 20 years, according to the Office for National Statistics, but was still 9.1% in 2017.

Taking into account all workers, both full and part time, the median average gap has risen slightly from 18.2% in 2016 to 18.4% this year.

In 183 out of 206 local authority areas, men in full time jobs earn more on average than women, but the gap varies from place to place.

The top 10 includes the City of London and Tower Hamlets, which contains the financial area Canary Wharf.

However, it is not a simple case of the gap being highest in the areas with the most lucrative jobs.

Blaenau Gwent in Wales has the highest percentage gap between male and female full-time workers, with the average man on 14.07 an hour and average woman on 9.54, a difference of 32%. That is equivalent to women not being paid from 4 September.

Knowsley in Merseyside, one of the most deprived areas of England, also appears in the top 10.

Roger Smith from the Office for National Statistics said women tend to earn more in areas with a higher rate of people working in the public sector while the age of the workforce also played a part.

The Fawcett Society said when higher earning jobs, more commonly held by men, are given more weight the average would mean effectively women stopped being paid from 10 November.

Jemima Olchawski, of the society, said: "One of the biggest gaps is in finance, which is why you will see the City of London and Tower Hamlets high up.

"There will also be issues around care. Women still make up the vast majority of carers. So we need to see more support for fathers to take time out to be with their children or care for relatives."

Linda Wong, a solicitor with law firm Leigh Day, said: "The pay gap will persist unless there is commitment and consistency across the board."

Where women make more than men

The fight for equal pay

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