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The TUC analysis of the gender pay gap concludes that the gender pay gap will not close until 2044. It reveals that, on average, women work for free for almost two months of the year compared to men. Among all employees, as of February 2024, the gender pay gap was 14.3%, meaning that women wait 52 days (until 21 February this year) before they stop working for free.  

The highest gender pay gap (27.9%) is to be found in the finance and insurance industry, with the next highest to be found in education (21.3%), even though the latter is dominated by women workers. The gender pay gap is shown to impact women from the start of their career, widening as they get older, with women aged 50 to 59 having the highest pay gap of 19.7%. Factors which contribute to this include part-time working and unpaid caring responsibilities, as well as the tendency for women to be employed in lower-paid roles than men.

There are regional variations too, with some parts of the country showing bigger gender pay gaps than others. The gap is largest in the South East of England (18.9%), closely followed by the East of England and the East Midlands. 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.

The TUC recommends employer action plans, in which they would detail how they will close their pay gaps; extending gender pay gap reporting to all employers with more than 50 employees, and expanding it to include ethnicity and disability pay gap reporting, as well as requiring equal pay audits. Other recommendations include supporting families to share caring responsibilities more equally by increasing statutory maternity, paternity and shared parental pay, normalising flexible working and banning zero hours contracts.

If Labour wins the general election it has declared that it will make efforts to end the gender pay gap faster. It has also pledged to introduce a mandatory disability pay gap reporting requirement for larger businesses and plans to introduce a new Race Equality Act which would tackle structural racism, including the issue of low pay for ethnic minorities, with fines for organisations not taking appropriate action on their pay data. It has also committed to banning zero hours contracts and making flexible working (not just the right to request a flexible working pattern which is coming in in April) a day one right.

Meanwhile research by NOW: Pensions and the Pensions Policy Institute reveals that UK women would, on average, need to work full-time for an extra 19 years to retire with the same pension pot as men. The research found that women retiring today at 67 have average pension savings of £69,000, in comparison to men with £205,000.

With pensions auto-enrolment starting at 22, the report concludes that females  would need to start saving at three years old to retire with the same amount of savings as working men. Contributory factors include caring responsibility, childcare costs, career gaps and lower earnings. NOW: Pensions is calling on the government to remove the £10,000 earnings threshold as it excludes many women who work part-time. It is also campaigning for auto-enrolment to begin at 18 and for the government to make a form of top-up contribution for periods spent out of work caring for children or other family members.