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New TUC analysis reveals Women’s Pay Day – the day when the average woman stops working for free compared to the average man – is today (Wednesday)

New TUC analysis published today (Wednesday) reveals that the average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man.

  • In some industries and in some parts of the country where the gender pay gap is wider, women effectively work for free for even longer 
  • Union body says Labour’s New Deal for Working People would be “huge boost” for working women, by introducing fair pay agreements in social care, banning zero-hours contracts and giving all workers a day one right to flexible work 

New TUC analysis published today (Wednesday) reveals that the average woman effectively works for free for nearly two months of the year compared to the average man. 

This is because the gender pay gap for all employees currently stands at 14.3%. 

This pay gap means that working women must wait 52 days – nearly two months – before they stop working for free on Women’s Pay Day today (Wednesday). 

And the analysis also shows that at current rates of progress, it will take 20 years – until 2044 – to close the gender pay gap. 

Industrial gender pay gaps 

Gender pay gap reporting was introduced back in 2017. However, the TUC analysis shows that – some seven years later – there are still big gender pay gaps in many industries. 

And this gap persists even in jobs dominated by female workers like in education and care. 

The union body says this is partly because women are more likely to work part-time, where working fewer hours means they earn less overall. And also, because women tend to be employed in lower-paid roles than men. 

  • In education the gender pay gap is 21.3%, so the average woman effectively works for free for nearly a fifth of the year (78 days) until St Patrick’s Day, 17 March 2024. 
  • In health care and social work, where the gender pay gap is 12.6%, the average woman works for free for 46 days until Valentine’s Day, 14 February 2024. 

The longest wait for Women’s Pay Day comes in finance and insurance. The gender pay gap (27.9%) is the equivalent of a whopping 102 days, meaning women work for free until Wednesday 10 April 2024. 

Gender pay gap by age 

The TUC analysis shows that the gender pay gap affects women throughout their careers, from their first step on the ladder until they take retirement. 

The gender pay gap is widest for middle aged and older women: 

  • Women aged 40 to 49 have a gender pay gap of 17%, so work 62 days for free until Tuesday 2 March 2024. 
  • Women aged between 50 and 59 have the highest pay gap (19.7%) and work the equivalent of 72 days for free, until Monday 11 March 2024. 
  • Women aged 60 and over have a gender pay gap of 18.1%. They work 66 days of the year for free before they stop working for free on Wednesday 6 March 2024. 

The TUC says the gender pay gap widens as women get older, due to women being more likely to take on caring responsibilities. And that older women take a bigger financial hit for balancing work alongside caring for children, older relatives and/or grandchildren. 

Regional gender pay gaps 

The analysis shows that in some parts of the country gender pay gaps are even bigger, so their Women’s Pay Day is later in the year. 

  • The gender pay gap is largest in the South East of England (18.9%). Women in this region work 69 days for free and they work for free until Friday 8 March 2024. 
  • Women in the East of England (17.7% pay gap) and the East Midlands (17.4%) also work for free until next month (Monday 4 March and Sunday 3 March 2024). 

The TUC explains that regional variations in the pay gap are likely to be caused by differences in the types of jobs and industries that are most common in that part of the country, and gender differences in who does these jobs. 

TUC General Secretary Paul Nowak said: 

“Everyone should be paid fairly for the job that they do. 

“It’s shameful that working women don’t have pay parity in 2024. And at current rates of progress, it will take another two decades to close the gender pay gap. 

“That's not right. We can’t consign yet another generation of women to pay inequality. 

“It’s clear that just publishing gender pay gaps isn’t working. Companies must be required to publish and implement action plans to close their pay gaps. And bosses who don’t comply with the law should be fined. 

“Labour’s New Deal for Working People would be a huge boost to working women. 

“It would introduce a day one right to flexible working and fair pay agreements to boost pay and conditions in social care – which we know is a predominantly female workforce. 

“It would also see mandatory action plans to close the gender pay gap and extending reporting to disability and ethnicity pay gaps.” 

Editors note

The gender pay gap: The overall gender pay gap is calculated using all median hourly pay, excluding overtime, for all male and female employees using the latest Office for National Statistics (ONS) Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) data. The gender pay gap percentage (14.3% in the latest ASHE data) is then translated into days. 

The latest ASHE data is available at: 
https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/earningsandworkinghours/bulletins/annualsurveyofhoursandearnings/2023 

Gender pay gap data is taken from ASHE, which does not provide a breakdown by ethnicity or disability status. Previous analysis by the TUC, based on Labour Force Survey data, has looked at the disability pay gap and how it intersects with the gender pay gap: https://www.tuc.org.uk/research-analysis/reports/jobs-and-pay-monitor-disabled-workers-23 

Women’s pay day by industry, source ONS ASHE, 2023. 

Industry 

% gender pay gap 

Number of days 

Women’s Pay Day  

All employees 

14.3 

52 

21/02/2024 

Water  

1.7 

06/01/2024 

Accommodation and food services 

3.6 

13 

13/01/2024 

Admin and support services 

5.6 

20 

20/01/2024 

Transport and storage 

6.2 

23 

22/01/2024 

Arts, entertainment and recreation 

6.7 

24 

24/01/2024 

Agriculture, forestry and fishing 

7.1 

26 

25/01/2024 

Public admin  

8.5 

31 

31/01/2024 

Real estate 

9.1 

33 

02/02/2024 

Health and social work 

12.6 

46 

14/02/2024 

Wholesale and retail, motor vehicle repair 

13.2 

48 

17/02/2024 

Manufacturing 

15.9 

58 

27/02/2024 

Information and communication 

16.4 

60 

28/02/2024 

Construction 

16.8 

61 

01/03/2024 

Professional, scientific and technical 

18.6 

68 

07/03/2024 

Education 

21.3 

78 

17/03/2024 

Financial and insurance 

27.9 

102 

10/04/2024 

Women’s pay day by age, source ONS ASHE, 2023. 

Age 

% gender pay gap 

Number of days women work for free 

Women’s Pay Day 

All ages 

14.3 

52 

21/02/2024 

18-21 

0.8 

02/01/2024 

22-29 

4.8 

18 

17/01/2024 

30-39 

11.5 

42 

10/02/2024 

40-49 

17 

62 

02/03/2024 

50-59 

19.7 

72 

11/03/2024 

60+ 

18.1 

66 

06/03/2024 

Women’s pay day by region, source ONS ASHE, 2023. 

Region 

Gender pay gap 

Number of days women work for free 

Women’s Pay Day 

South East 

18.9 

69 

08/03/2024 

East of England 

17.7 

65 

04/03/2024 

East Midlands 

17.4 

64 

03/03/2024 

Yorkshire and the Humber 

16.2 

59 

28/02/2024 

South West 

16.2 

59 

28/02/2024 

West Midlands 

13.4 

49 

17/02/2024 

North West 

13.4 

49 

17/02/2024 

North East 

11.8 

43 

12/02/2024 

London 

10.7 

39 

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