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UK women earn 19.5% less than men
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Published on 02-03-12

Women in the UK continue to earn an average of 19.5% less than men, according to new figures released by the European Commission on European Equal Pay Day. The EU-wide event marks the extra number of days that women must work to match the amount of money earned by men. This year’s Equal Pay Day focuses in particular on employers and comes ahead of International Women's Day on 8 March.

    UK women earn 19.5% less than men

    "European Equal Pay Day reminds us of the days and hours that women have been working 'for free' since 1 January. The principle of equal pay for equal work is written in the EU Treaties since 1957. It is high time that it is put in practice everywhere," said EU Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding, the Commission’s Vice-President.

    The latest figures show an average 16.4% gender pay gap in 2010 across the European Union. They confirm a slight downward trend in recent years, when the figure was around 17% or higher. The current rate ranges from around 2% in Poland to more than 27% in Estonia.

    But despite the generally slightly positive trend, there are member states where the gender pay gap is widening, such as Bulgaria, France, Latvia, Hungary, Portugal and Romania.

    The gender pay gap is the average difference in gross hourly earnings between women and men across the economy as a whole.  It is persistently high, with considerable differences between countries and sectors being recorded, reflecting the problem of balancing work and private life and with many women taking parental leave and having part-time jobs.


    Reducing the gender pay gap requires action on several levels to tackle its multiple causes, which is why the Commission works on this closely with member states.

    In December 2011, the Commission organised an exchange of good practices to tackle the gender pay gap, such as the German government tool launched in 2009 (the Logib-D software) which allows companies to analyse the gender pay gap within their organisation.

    Thanks to EU and national legislation on equal pay, the number of cases of direct discrimination – differences in pay between men and women doing exactly the same job – has fallen, but the pay gap goes far beyond this, reflecting ongoing inequality in the overall job market.

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    Last update: 02/03/2012  |Top