Gender pay gap GROWS for the first time in five years: Men now earn £97-a-week more than women
The gap between what men and women earn in work has widened for the first time in five years, new figures show. Full-time men now earn 10 per cent more than their female colleagues, but including all employees the gap has risen 19.6 per cent to 19.7 per cent.
Unions seized on the figures as proof that years of ‘slow, steady progress’ on pay equality was being eroded.
Working women receive £97-a-week less than men in full-time jobs, the Office for National Statistics, it was the first time the gender pay gap has increased since 2008.
The figures showed that median annual earnings for full-time employees were £27,000 in the year to April, an increase of 2.1 per cent from the previous year.One in 10 full-time workers earned less than £7.28 an hour, while 10 per cent earned more than £27 an hour, both figures increasing by 1.5 per cent over the year.
Weekly pay was highest in London at £658, and lowest in Northern Ireland at £460.
Full-time pay for men increased by 1.8 per cent to £556 a week and went up by 2.2 per cent for women to £459.
Lucy Powell said attitudes had to change because the days of dad working while mum ‘stays at home bringing up the kids’ are long gone. The shadow childcare minister said she wanted to ‘bust the myth’ of working parents as unreliable employees.
Miss Powell, who recently returned to Westminster from maternity leave, called for a revolution in the way employers and colleagues view working parents. And she complained that the depiction of mothers on television has not changed since the 1970s, when the sitcom Butterflies featured the frustrated, culinary-challenged housewife Ria, played by Wendy Craig.
Mothers are wrongly seen as unfocussed employees who take too much time off while fathers have requests for leave rejected, she said.
In her first speech since taking the role in Ed Miliband’s reshuffle, she said society must value the contribution parents make in the workplace.
She added: ‘Far from being scatty and clock-watching, working mums have done a day’s work before they leave the house – we don’t waste a minute of our day.’
The TUC said its analysis of the data based on mean, or average, figures showed that the gender pay gap was 15.7 per cent.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: ‘Years of a slow, steady progress on closing the gender pay gap has gone into reverse. Ministers should be ashamed of presiding over this latest dismal record on pay.
‘It is not right that in Britain today women still earn 15 per cent less per hour than men, a pay gap that costs full-time women over £5,000 a year.
‘The light-touch, voluntary approach to tackling gender pay inequality is clearly failing. ‘We need tougher action to force companies to look at their pay gaps, while government can lead the way by making all new jobs available on a part-time or flexible basis.’
The TUC said the real value of the average full-time wage fell by more than £200 over the last year, and by nearly £2,000 since 2010.
Charlie Woodworth of the Fawcett Society said the widening gender pay gap ‘is a damming indictment of the Government’s record when it comes to women’s standing in the economy’.
Labour’s shadow women’s minister Gloria De Piero said: ‘After falling under Labour, this morning we learn that the gender pay gap is back on the increase and no progress has been made in three years of this government.
‘Women are bearing the brunt of the cost of living crisis and today confirms that decades of progress on women’s equality are being undermined by a government that just doesn’t get it when it comes to women.’
However Chancellor George Osborne said it was ‘interesting’ that the ONS figures showed the increase in average earnings keeping pace with inflation.
He told the Commons Treasury Committee: ‘It shows that median gross weekly earnings are increasing at 2.2 per cent. ‘That is, of course, the current rate of inflation.
‘So I think that points to the broader argument that I have been making, which is that as the economy recovers, that is the route to a sustained increase in the living standards of the people who live in that economy, and you can’t pretend that the two aren’t connected, that you can have a living standards plan without an economy plan.’