The UK’s gender pay gap has the effect that, compared to the average man, the average woman has to wait more than two months into the year before she starts to get paid.
According to the TUC, the current gender pay gap for all full-time and part-time male and female employees stands at 18%. That means, the TUC explains, that women effectively work for free for the first 66 days of the year.
In recognition of that anomaly, today (7 March) has been designated "Women’s Pay Day": the point in the year which the average female worker must reach before she effectively starts earning.
For women in some sectors, the wait can extend into April or even May. In education, for example, the gender pay gap is currently 27%, so the average woman effectively works for free for more than a quarter of the year (97 days) and has to wait until 7 April before she starts earning the same as the average man.
The longest wait for Women’s Pay Day is in finance and insurance, where the gender pay gap extends to 137 days and results in the big day not arriving until 17 May.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said: "Paying lip service to the problem is not good enough. Companies that don’t pay women the same as men for work of equal value are breaking the law."
However, she added, too few women can afford to take their bosses to an Employment Tribunal because the fees are set at £1200.
To address the problem, the TUC wants the Government to take a number of actions, including ending pay discrimination, improving pay for jobs that are traditionally seen as "women’s work" and tackling the motherhood pay penalty.