This year's Equal Pay Day, the day in the year when women effectively start to work for free, falls on 14 November, according to campaigning group, the Fawcett Society.

Chief Executive Sam Smethers said: “Progress to close the gender pay gap is dismally slow and at this rate it will take 60 years to eradicate it. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the Equal Pay Act, women have waited long enough.”

The most recent statistics from the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE), published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), show that the mean gender pay gap for full-time workers is 13.1%.

All organisations employing over 250 people in England, Wales and Scotland are legally required to report their gender pay gap data annually. Fawcett campaigned for this to be introduced and has said that it will continue to press for it be strengthened.

“The pay gap represents a productivity gap and a waste of women's skills and potential,” Ms Smethers said. “Too many women are trapped in low-paid part-time work or locked out of non-traditional sectors while others experience pay or pregnancy discrimination.”

The latest figures indicate that, in the year to April 2019, the gender pay gap for full-time workers rose to 8.9% — up from 8.6% the previous year. However, for people under 40, the gap for full-time employees was close to zero.

Women over 40 are more likely to work in lower-paid occupations and, compared with younger women, are less likely to work as managers, directors or senior officials, the ONS explained.

For those in part-time jobs, the gap fell from 17.8% in 2018 to 17.3% in 2019.

TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Government must pick up the pace. It’s clear that publishing gender pay gaps isn’t enough on its own. Companies must also be legally required to explain how they’ll close them.”

Comment by Peninsula Associate Director of Advisory Kate Palmer

As we are nearing the third annual gender pay gap reporting deadline, it is safe to assume that most employers will have the topic of pay equality high up on their business agendas.

However, from an employer’s perspective, it is important to understand that there will be no quick-fix solution to this issue.

While there are valid arguments to suggest that women are “locked out” of traditional sectors such as construction and engineering, it is worth considering that many employers in these industries have lamented the lack of skilled staff available overall.

With this in mind, new initiatives such as the “industry-focused” T-Level qualifications may equip female jobseekers with the right requirements needed to gain future employment in these non-traditional sectors.

However, as these technical qualifications will not be available until 2020, it may still be some time until any significant progress is achieved in this regard.

Last reviewed 5 November 2019