In Brief

UK sees biggest gender pay gap rise in EU

Little has been done to tackle pay disparities between men and women, European Commission says

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The gender pay gap has risen faster in Britain than in any other EU country, according to the latest figures from the European Commission.

Men in the UK earned 20.8% more than women in 2015 compared to 19.7% in 2014, well above the average EU pay gap which stood at 16.3%.

The UK now has the fifth-largest gender pay imbalance of all 28 member states, after Estonia, the Czech Republic, Germany, and Austria.

According to the figures, the average gap is equivalent to women continuing to work for the remainder of the year but not being paid after early November, Business Insider reports.

“It is an unacceptable and shocking injustice that women in 21st century Europe work two months a year for free,” said Vera Jourova, EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality. “This gender pay gap has remained the same for many years — it is still very similar to in 1995.”

The pay imbalance isn’t the only problem affecting women in the workplace, Jourova added.

Recent sexual harassment revelations “underline the sometimes hostile working environments which women also have to face, with obvious consequences for their professional development and well-being”, she said.

The data suggests that despite low unemployment rates in the UK and Germany, rising employment is “doing little to shrink pay disparities between men and women”, says the Financial Times.

“Britain’s unemployment rate has dropped to the lowest in 40 years at 4.3% while Germany boasts the lowest jobless rate since the country’s reunification in 1990,” the paper reports.

The Government recently introduced a new law requiring any company employing more than 250 people in the UK to publish the average wage of male and female employees from April next year.

Companies will not face repercussions if their figures reveal a gender pay gap, but the Government said it was hopeful that “reputational risk” would push them to take action.

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