Gender pay gap costs women in Bedford two weeks' salary

Women earn six per cent less than men

Monday, 23rd November 2020, 12:01 pm
Updated Monday, 23rd November 2020, 12:04 pm

Women in Bedford will effectively work two weeks for free this year, figures revealing the area's gender pay gap show.

Figures from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) show women working in Bedford earned an average hourly salary of £12.64 as of April – six per cent less than men, who earned £13.38.

Over the course of the working year, this means, in effect, women in Bedford will work without pay from December 14 in 2020.

Women in Bedford will effectively work two weeks for free this year

However, female workers in Bedford earn more than the median average hourly rate of £12.50 for women across the UK.

The equivalent for UK men is £14.79, meaning they earn 15.5 per cent more every hour – down from 17.4 per cent in 2019.

Hourly figures are used to remove the effect of overtime, while the median is used, to stop them being skewed by particularly small or large wages.

When hours worked are taken into account, the mean average full-time salary for UK women is £33,259, compared to £42,231 for men.

Sam Smethers, chief executive from gender equality charity Fawcett Society, said coronavirus also poses a number of risks to women’s pay and employment which could "turn the clock back for a generation", though it will take until next year to know how significant this will be.

She added: “Mothers are more likely to have had their work disrupted due to unequal caring roles and a lack of childcare. Men are more likely to have worked under furlough, and to have had their pay topped up.

"The second lockdown looks set to hit women working in hospitality and retail hard while predominantly male-dominated sectors like construction and manufacturing are still at work.”

Pay discrimination is prohibited by law but the charity says it persists because employers can too easily hide salary information.

Other factors include women doing more part-time work, often as mothers or carers, an undervaluing of the types of work women do, a lack of women entering some well-paid careers such as engineering, and the failure to promote women within organisations.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said reporting gender pay gap data is an important tool in combatting unlawful pay discrimination, but "meaningful action" is also needed.

A spokeswoman added: “We have repeatedly called for the Government to make it mandatory for employers to publish action plans with specific targets and deadlines alongside their pay gap data."

The Equality Hub, which is made up of officials from the Government Equalities Office, Race Disparity Unit and Disability Unit, said a comprehensive support package was in place for sectors that have been particularly impacted by the pandemic.