Swindon & Wiltshire Business News

Swindon's gender pay gap described as 'woeful' by campaigners

Female workers in Swindon are still being paid almost a quarter less than their male counterparts, according to new figures released this week.

Today (Thursday, November 14) is Equal Pay Day – the day in the year when women effectively start to work for free, when their pay packet compared to that of male colleagues.

Nationally, the pay gap averages 17.3 percent, according to data compiled by the Office for National Statistics. But in Swindon, the gap widens to 23.7 percent.

That means Swindon's female workforce started working for free on or around October 4.

The Trade Unions Congress – which represents 5.6 million working people – says the causes of the gender pay gap are complex but much more can be done to close it.

The TUC's South West regional secretary Nigel Costley said: "From employers who simply undervalue women’s role in the workplace, to not enough flexible working options for mums and dads, there are many reasons why we are still seeing unacceptable pay gaps in our workplaces.

“Childcare costs are extortionate, so women who typically earn less than their partners will be the ones who cut back on their hours to look after the kids. This impacts on career opportunities and pay in the long run.”

The federation of trade unions also points to too few women in senior and leadership positions in businesses that can reduce the gap.

It is calling for

  • New and stronger rights on flexible working
  • New family-friendly rights at work from day one for mums and dads
  • Firms to be legally required to publish an action plan on how they’ll tackle pay inequality in their businesses and advertise jobs on a more flexible basis.
  • And rules introduced to fine companies who repeatedly don’t pay women fairly.

Equality campaign group The Fawcett Society is also calling for more to be done to close the pay divide.

Its own research suggests that 60 percent of women in workplaces across the UK either don’t know what their male colleagues earn, or believe they are earning less than men who are doing the same job.

Sam Smethers, chief executive of the Fawcett Society, said: “Nearly fifty years on from the Equal Pay Act, equal pay for equal work is still a distant dream for many women. Pay secrecy means women cannot know if they are being paid equally and fairly."

She continued: “Even if they do suspect a man is earning more it is almost impossible to do anything about it.

"This is why we are calling for a change in the law. Women need an enforceable ‘Right to Know’ what their colleagues earn so that they can challenge unequal pay."