Research by the TUC found that the 18 per cent pay gap for full and part-time workers means women start getting paid today compared with the average male employee.
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The union organisation dubbed today Women’s Pay Day, which coincides with the annual International Women’s Day.
Differences in pay are even bigger in industries dominated by women, such as education, health and social work and finance and insurance, said the TUC.
General secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Nearly 50 years since the Ford machinists went on strike at Dagenham, the UK still has one of the worst gender pay gaps in Europe. Women effectively work for free for two months a year.
“Companies publishing information on their gender pay gaps is a small step in the right direction but it’s nowhere near enough.
“Women in the UK will only start to get paid properly when we have better paid part-time and flexible jobs, and higher wages in key sectors like social care.”
A separate study, also out today, showed that one in three women earning below the voluntary living wage have no savings and most worry about their finances.
Research found that two out of five have more than £500 of debt, with one in four spending over £100 a month servicing their debt.
The Living Wage Foundation and the Fawcett Society said their findings revealed that three out of five working women only have enough savings to last a month if they lost their job.
Tess Lanning, director of the Living Wage Foundation, which sets the voluntary living wage, said: “The precariousness of life for women earning little more than the government minimum shows the need for more employers to take a stand by paying the real living wage based on what people need to make ends meet.
“Our research shows that debt and financial insecurity is widespread for low-paid women, with many struggling to save for a rainy day.”
The voluntary wage is £8.75 an hour outside of London and £10.20 in the capital, compared with the Government’s national living wage of £7.50 for over 25-year-olds.