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Equal pay ‘a long way off’

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Figures released today still show that the pay gap between women and men in Britain is still as wide as ever, with part-time women workers in particular penalised in their pay packets.

The New Earnings Survey statistics for 2002, from the Office of National Statistics show that the gap between full-time workers pay has widened slightly. This has been attributed to large pay rises in the City, among a predominantly male workforce.

Women who work full-time earn just 81.2% of the average full-time male wage (compared to 81.5% in 2001), while part-time female employees earn just 58.9% of the male full-time average hourly wage, compared to 58.7% in 2001. Low pay estimates also released today show that 180,000 part-time jobs done by women pay less than the minimum wage, compared to 50, 000 part-time jobs which are done by men.

Commenting on the figures, Julie Mellor, Chair of the EOC said, “Women who work part-time, pay a particularly heavy price for not working the traditional 9-5. Women who work in typical part-time jobs such as cleaning or catering, which offer the flexible hours they need to look after the children, find that there is a price which is a low hourly rate of pay. We just don’t put a proper value on these types of jobs because they have traditionally been done by women.

“Britain’s woeful record on pay has to change if we are ever to see a more equal society. It will only change if companies of all sizes review the way that they pay their staff. It’s not enough to recognise the problem, companies have to take action if we are to see an improvement in next year’s pay figures. Over the longer term the Government needs to look at why women’s jobs remain undervalued and underpaid.”

The EOC has developed an Equal Pay Kit to help employers carry out pay reviews.

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