Page last updated at 14:31 GMT, Friday, 14 November 2008

Gender pay gap 'still widening'

By Martin Shankleman
Employment correspondent, BBC News

Office worker. File photo
The Fawcett Society has called for pay audits to expose any disparities

The gap between men and women's pay in the UK has started to widen again, according to official government figures just released.

On average, men earn 15.54 an hour, compared with 12.88 for women.

The Office for National Statistics calculates the gender pay gap at 17.1%, up from 17% the year before.

The TUC said the private sector gap was 21.7%, because many private firms were unwilling to carry out checks of their pay patterns to ensure they were fair.

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "The link between fair pay and checking pay systems is clear. The case for mandatory pay audits is stronger than ever."

The figures showed that a typical man's gross weekly pay was 631, compared with 485 for a woman. Men also worked more overtime and earned higher commissions and bonuses.

The GMB union said the UK had fallen 20 places behind in an international gender pay league.

Equality officer Kamaljeet Jandu said: "Male workers at the top of the tree account for a lot of this gender pay gap. Women's contributions, skills and experience are equal to men's and must be rewarded accordingly."

The Equality and Human Rights Commission estimated that based on the latest figures, the average woman who worked full time would miss out on 369,000 over her working life.

Chief Executive Nicola Brewer said: "In these tough economic times, everyone will be counting the pounds and pence, and today's figures show women in particular are feeling the pinch."

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