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Girls & Women

From November 10 Women in the UK Will be Working for Free

Why Global Citizens Should Care
The gender pay gap and the issue of equal pay highlights that there is still a long way to go before we can achieve gender equality in the UK. Despite the Equal Pay Act being passed some 50 years ago, ongoing scandals show that companies continue to flout the law. Take action on gender equality here.

From November 10, women in the UK will effectively be working for free. 

Why? Well, it's all to do with the gender pay gap.

Take Action: Sign this petition to #LeveltheLaw and empower girls and women around the world!

The gender pay gap for women working full-time currently stands at 13.7% — meaning the average difference as a percentage in hourly earnings between men and women.

And November 10 — also known as Equal Pay Day — is when women effectively stop earning any more money in comparison to their male counterparts.

To draw attention to this, the Fawcett Society and the Women’s Equality Party both launched Twitter campaigns on the eve of 2018 #EqualPayDay to show the internet what it would be like if women really did suddenly go #OutOfOffice. 

The Women Equality Party say their last #OutOfOffice campaign reached 1.2 billion people in 2017, and this year the party released text for women to use as their automated out of office response: "Today is the last day in 2018 women get paid to work because of the gender pay gap."

The terms gender pay gap and equal pay are two slightly different expressions related to inequality in the workplace.

The gender pay gap is the difference in income between women and men across the whole of the economy; equal pay however is concerned with women receiving less money than men for the same job.

According to the Fawcett Society, the gender pay gap exists for a number of reasons, including: traditionally male-dominated occupations, such as skilled trades like carpentry and plumbing, where the gender pay gap is at 20.3%; the fact that women make up 73% of part-time employees; and that women continue to play a greater role in caring for children, the elderly, or the sick, affecting their ability to work full-time.

Equal pay on the other hand has been illegal since 1970. But research revealed by the Fawcett Society showed that one in three workers don’t know it is illegal to pay men and women different wages for the same work.

The Fawcett Society called on women to take selfies with an = sign — and launched a legal advice service for women in the workplace.

The Equal Pay Advice Service from the Fawcett Society was set up after former BBC China editor Carrie Gracie made a donation from the £280,000 she won following the gender pay scandal at the BBC.

It will give women paid £30,000 a year or less access to expert employment lawyers, so they can understand their legal rights and navigate just pay with employers.

Read More: A Top BBC Journalist Revealed Exactly Why She Just Quit in an Inspiring Open Letter

Speaking on BBC News today, Gracie said that pay discrimination “is embedded in many workplaces across the country”.

Gracie lodged a complaint in August 2017, after the BBC was forced to disclose the salaries of employees earning more than £150,000 a year. It turned out that two male international editors earned significantly more than their female counterparts – Middle East editor Jeremy Bowen earned up to £190,000 a year, compared to Gracie's £135,000, according to the Guardian.

"I think employers are more aware of it now, after Me Too, the gender pay gap, and the rest of it – and are hopefully wanting to sort it out," she said.

The gender pay gap decreased from 14.1% in 2017.