In Brief

Equal pay day: women will now work for free until end of year

Today marks the date women will effectively stop earning in relation to men due to the gender pay gap

The current gender pay gap means that women in Britain will effectively be working for free for the remainder of the year, say campaigners.

Today has been dubbed Equal Pay Day in an attempt to highlight the difference in earnings between men and women in Britain and the reasons behind it.

Women continue to be paid less than men, with the average full-time female employee receiving 14.5 per cent less than her male colleague – or 85.5p for every £1 earned by a man.

This is due to "differences in caring responsibilities; clustering in low skilled and low paid work, the qualifications and skills women acquire; and outright discrimination," says the Fawcett Society.

Although the gender pay gap has narrowed slightly over the past year, campaigners warn that it would still take 54 years to reach equality in the workplace if current rates continue, The Guardian reports.

The pay imbalance affects almost 55 per cent of Britain's top earners, according to the TUC. "These figures show that the glass ceiling is barely cracked – let alone broken," said general secretary Frances O'Grady.

"It is shocking the UK still has such large gender pay differences at the top of the labour market after more than four decades of equal pay and sex discrimination legislation."

David Cameron has vowed to close the gap "within a generation" and recently announced that larger employers would be forced to publish the salaries and bonuses paid to men and women in a bid to put pressure on companies to increase women's wages. 

"There has never been a better opportunity to close the pay gap for good," said Sam Smethers, the chief executive of the Fawcett Society.

"Progress has stalled in recent years but with real commitment from government and employers, together with action from women and men at work, we could speed up progress towards the day when we can consign it to history."

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