7 November 2013

Happy Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day is probably not a day that you've ever heard of. It's not a fun holiday like Christmas and actually the fact that it even exists makes me more than a bit angry, but it is a very important day. So I bet you're wondering what the heck Equal Pay Day actually is and why I'm bothering to mention it at all.

Each year, November 7th marks the day when women effectively begin to work for free due to the wage gap.
Despite the implementation of the Equal Pay Act in 1970, which aimed to ensure that men and women were paid equally for equal work, the UK still has the largest pay gap in the European Union.
 Women working full time routinely earn 15 per cent less per hour than their male counterparts. This means that for every £1 earned by a man, a woman earns only 85p. The wage discrepancy is worse for part-time work; women make up 74 per cent of the part-time workforce but earn 35 per cent less than men; they 'celebrated' their Equal Pay Day on August 27th. As women also traditionally do most unpaid work outside of a professional context, such as childcare and housework, they are more likely to work part-time hours than men are, leaving them much more likely to be paid unfairly.

The wage gap is not restricted to just a few areas of employment, either. In fact, in 32 of the 35 major professional sectors, women will earn less than men. The exact gap in wages also varies in different sectors; for example, in the financial sector, women earn an estimated 55 per cent less. That means a man earns more than twice as much as a woman for the same work.
Many women also work in the private sector, where the pay gap is around 20 per cent. Due to the recession, and jobs cuts in the public sector, many more women are forced into the private sector work and as such are more vulnerable to these wage discrepancies.
It isn't simply wages either; men receive an estimated £150,000 extra in bonuses during their career.

The issue of equal pay is often hidden away, as people are afraid to ask about money for fear of rocking the boat. Many companies also keep their payroll details private so no external party can examine the fairness of their wages.
Attempts are also often made to justify the wage gap by some notion of how men and women are different and as such should be paid differently. It is true that women often take time off to have children and care for them, but this is not and should not be the norm; paternity leave should also be offered, along with cheaper childcare, to ensure it is not solely women who a) bear the brunt of raising children and b) are then penalised for having children in the first place. Many women choose to leave work, permanently or temporarily, to care for their children which of course is fine; it's the fact that it's really women who are expected to leave work to attend to childcare and on their return their absence is used to justify their lower wages which is an issue!

The fact remains that even forty years after the Equal Pay Act was introduced, women are paid less than men for equal work. As well as perpetuating inequality and being wholly unfair and unjustified, lack of equal pay can also have an impact on employee morale and performance. It really is in the best interests of everyone to ensure wage equality.
To combat the inequality in wages, transparency of company pay roll is needed, as well as a fundamental change to the perception of women in the workplace and a challenging of the stereotypes which often haunt women as they embark on their careers is crucial.

To me, and I hope you, it really is unacceptable that this is allowed to continue. I wanted to raise awareness of this issue because it really is important- and fair!- that women are paid equally to their male counterparts for the same work. We have come a long way in terms of equality, thankfully, but we still have far to go. Failing to pay women equally shows that in many instances women are still not equally respected in the working world and that must change.
It's time that women and their worth were equally recognised and respected.

Have you heard of Equal Pay Day before? What do you think about the lack of equality in wages?

For more information on equal pay, you can visit The Fawcett Society or check out the #equalpay hashtag on Twitter.


  1. great post! would you like to follow eachother?

  2. Great article - it's frankly shocking that we're in 2013 (nearly 2014!) and STILL in this situation. I just can't comprehend why it's still an issue and why more employers aren't doing more about being transparent about it. Would be great if someone came forward and said "Hey! We pay women the same amount as men for the same work!" instead of hiding away and trying to close the debate all the time. Argh! So annoying :(

    Evelyn @ We Were Raised By Wolves