Written by
Ruth Thomas
Senior Consultant and Co-Founder, CURO

20 November 2020

If you are a woman in the UK, today is the day to put your out of office on for the rest of the year. (I know that’s really tempting this year!) Essentially, this is when women start working for free compared to men. This date is based on the mean average gender pay gap for full time workers which is 11.5 percent this year (Based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) earnings figures for 2020) which is down from 13.1 percent in 2019.  

Even though, based on these figures, there has been a reduction in the gender pay gap, the Fawcett Society warns that this year’s data comes with a strong reliability warning with the ONS having difficulty in data collection due to the Coronavirus crisis. The ONS had 25 percent of the usual employer sample of pay data missing (44,000 out of 180,000 employers) and the real impact of furloughed employees across the country is still vague.

While many claim that the gender pay gap is not a real thing, according to the World Economic Forum, there is no country in the world where women make as much as men for doing the same work. Women are paid less than men with the gender pay gap estimated at 23 percent globally.

There continues to be hurdles towards gender equality and empowerment of women due to being held back by historical and structural unequal power relations and poverty and disadvantages in access to resources and opportunities. And progress on narrowing that gap between genders has been slow. While equal pay for men and women has been widely endorsed, applying it in real world practice has become difficult. Recognizing Equal Pay Day raises awareness of these disparities.

On top of this, COVID-19 has forced a large chunk of the population to work remotely with the risk of layoffs across industries. Women, unfortunately, have a higher risk of suffering pay penalties as a result. This is because women make up a larger percentage of occupations including: social services, education, library and training, office and administrative support, and personal care, which are more likely to be suspended, laid off, or forced to work reduced hours. Women have also been more likely to have to take time off work, or even leave their jobs to take care of children who are no longer in school or tend to other family members.

There are steps you can take during this time to reduce the economic effects on women and prevent recent global events and the Coronavirus crisis, from derailing your company’s progress on pay equity. While a lot has changed since we first drew parallels to the 2020s and 1920s just a few months ago, we are still feeling optimistic. We believe that employers can use this time as an opportunity to review and refine their pay practices.

UK Equal Pay Day Infographic


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