Women in Britain have to wait 100 years to get paid like men

People walking on London Bridge in central London in 2011.
People walking on London Bridge in central London in 2011.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Working women in Britain face a 100 year wait to be paid the same as men, with progress towards closing the gender pay gap stalling as younger women's wages lag behind, a women's rights group said on Friday (Nov 10).

The pay gap between men and women in Britain stands at 14.1 per cent - unchanged over the past two years - but has grown significantly for women in their twenties, to 5.5 per cent this year from 1.1 percent in 2011, according to the Fawcett Society.

The data was published on Friday, dubbed Equal Pay Day in Britain, after which women effectively work for free until the end of the year because of the disparity in earnings with their male colleagues.

"We are going backwards and that is extremely worrying," Sam Smethers, Fawcett Society chief executive, said in a statement.

"The pay gap is widest for older women as it grows over our working lives but we are now seeing a widening of the pay gap for younger women too."

Allegations of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein's predatory sexual behaviour have moved millions of women to share stories of harassment, often in the workplace, on social media.

Smethers said the same sexist culture revealed in the #MeToo posts suppresses women's earnings.

"We need to wake up to the fact that a culture which tolerates or even fosters sexual harassment isn't going to pay women properly either, and we know that younger women are particularly likely to experience harassment," said Smethers.

In 2016, the UK dropped from the 18th position to the 20th in the World Economic Forum's annual Global Gender Gap Report, due to a slight drop in female representation in politics and business.

Britain became one of the first countries to require large firms to report pay discrepancies between male and female employees under a law that came into effect this year.