Analysis of official government statistics has revealed that women are paid less than men at every stage of their careers.
The Trade Union Congress (TUC) looked at the median annual salary in a range of age brackets, and have found that women earn up to 25.9% less.
The gap was most pronounced in those aged between 50 and 59. The median salary for women was £24,269, over £8,000 less than their male peers.
TUC general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Women suffer a huge pay penalty over the course of their careers, which peaks in their 50s. At current rates of progress it will take decades for women to achieve pay parity with men.”
Drawing on findings from previous research, TUC believes that the pronounced difference in salaries for those over 40 is due to the discrepancy in the impact of parenthood on men and women’s careers.
Research published earlier this year found the pay gap between mums and dads aged 42 (average midpoint of a professional life) working full-time was 42%. For childless men and women in their early 40s, it was 12%.
O’Grady added: “Having children has starkly different effects on men’s and women’s pay, with women earning less after having kids, and men earning more. Far more needs to be done to help mums get back into decent, well-paid jobs after hey have kids – and to encourage dads to take on their share of caring responsibilities.”
5 ways to close the gender pay gap
TUC has suggested the following action to help close the gender pay gap.
- Support for more equal parenting roles to stop women being held back at work: Better paid, specific leave for dads would encourage them to play more of a role at home and share caring responsibilities with mums from as soon as a child is born.
- More done to address excessive working hours in full-time jobs: This would allow mothers who want to work full-time to do so – and would also ensure that fathers can play more of a role at home.
- Better support for women when they become mothers: Better opportunities to work flexibly or work reduced hours and more support for women returners would help more mums back into well-paid work.
- More done to ensure women are not overlooked for training or promotion opportunities once they have children: Employers also need to ensure that these opportunities are not designed in a way that excludes those with caring responsibilities.
- Better pay gap reporting: Gender pay gap reporting is due to begin for large employers in 2018. The law should be strengthened so that employers have to publish an action plan for narrowing the gender pay gap in their workplace. There should also be proper sanctions for employers who refuse to publish this information.