18 November 2021 has been identified by the Fawcett Society as Equal Pay Day – the day in the year when women overall stop being paid compared to men. This is determined using data from the Office for National Statistics Gender Pay Gap in the UK 2021. The Fawcett Society uses the mean, full-time, hourly gender pay gap for the UK to calculate the gender pay gap for Equal Pay Day which this year is 11.9%, an increase from 10.6% last year.
In the last two years women have been at the front line of the Covid-19 response in public sector workplaces. In the ongoing battle to keep the virus at bay and support vulnerable people impacted by Covid-19, many of the most important jobs are being carried out predominantly by low paid women working as carers, cleaners, support workers and caterers.
The fact Public Sector pay rises have not kept pace with inflation puts an ever-increasing financial strain on women in low paid work. We know some of these women are leaving work in the public sector to take up work with less stress and increasingly better pay in other sectors. This is leading to loss of women with years of knowledge and experience in vital public sector work and serious recruitment problems for employers.
All employers with more that 250 employees are obliged to publish their own Gender Pay Gap, but we do not believe simply publishing the figure is enough. Through the Bridge the Gap campaign UNISON is calling for all employers to examine what the reasons for their Gender Pay Gap are and to produce an action plan to reduce it in consultation with Trade Unions.
We encourage all UNISON women members to take an active role in workplace negotiations about their pay by taking part in consultations, surveys, ballots and member meetings. Currently many members are being called upon to have their say on pay in Local Government and Health ballots. Women are the majority membership in UNISON, so it is vital our voices are heard through these ballots. We encourage branches to ensure meetings and communications about pay ballots and consultations are made accessible to women.