'I’m Out of Office Until 2019': UK Working Women Highlight Gender Pay Gap

Attitudes about gender pay gap are changing, and there is an ever greater consensus that it is unacceptable for women to be paid less than men. But it will take years for the gap to diminish.

New Delhi: Working women in the UK on Saturday, November 10, set automated replies on their emails to draw attention to the gender pay gap in the country. The date symbolises how far into the year UK women must work to earn what men earned in the previous year. The date differs by year and country.

The Fawcett Society, a UK-based charity group that campaigns for gender equality and women’s rights, set November 10 as the date in the UK when women begin working “for free” when their annual pay is compared to that of men.

Most industrialised nations have criminalised disparities in pay between men and women, but the pay gap remains to be addressed effectively. One of the many ways of determining the pay gap is the use of difference in median or average pay between men and women in full-time jobs in terms of gross salary without overtime work. This gap was 13.7% this year in Britain, according to the New York Times. In other words, women on average earn 86.3% of what men do for the same work. This year’s gap, though, is the lowest since records began in 1997, when the average pay gap was 20.7%.

In the United States, Equal Pay Day fell on April 10, to mark how far into the year women had to work to match what their male counterparts earned the previous year.

The average pay gap in the European Union for 2016 was 16%, according to the European Commission. In the EU, the UK and Germany remain among the countries with high gender pay gap while Belgium, Italy and Luxembourg figure are among those with low gender pay gap.

The situation is far worse in India, where the gap is as high as 30%, according to the Global Wage Report 2016-17 published by the International Labour Organization in 2016.

Also watch: How Bad Is the Gender Pay Gap in the Indian Labour Market?

According to a recent EU opinion poll, attitudes about gender pay gap are changing, with most people thinking that it is unacceptable for women to be paid less than men. But many people were seen to be unaware that equal pay is guaranteed by the equal pay legislation that exists in all EU member states. In the UK, the Equal Pay Act, passed in 1970, prohibited unequal pay and working conditions between women and women. The Act finally came into force in 1975. The Equal Pay Act 1970 was replaced by the Equality Act in 2010.