Despite the economic recovery taking hold and unemployment figures dropping, the recession has meant that the gender pay gap has widened in the UK. More women are now in low paid work, self-employed or on zero hours contracts, according to a new report from the Fawcett Society.
Since the 2008 financial crisis, female under-employment has nearly doubled, reaching 789,000, while an additional 371,000 women have moved to self-employment, which the society describes as being typically low-paid as well as insecure. One in eight women also say they are on zero hour contracts.
These factors have contributed to the gender pay gap, which widened for the first time in five years in 2013. On average, women now take home 81p for every £1 a man earns.
Eva Neitzet, deputy CEO at the Fawcett Society, commented, “The evidence is clear: after five years of decline, unemployment is down and GDP is improving. However, as our research shows, low paid women are being firmly shut out of the recovery.
“The numbers of women in low paid, insecure work are still alarmingly high. Since the crisis in 2008 we have seen a nearly two-fold increase in the numbers of women working in insecure, part-time and temporary jobs where they would prefer to be in secure full-time roles.”
She added some women might struggle to make ends meet as the value of their pay is also declining in real terms. Even the planned increase in the national minimum wage this October will only increase the value of the wage to 2005 levels in real terms, Neizet explained.
Frances O’Grady, general secretary of union TUC, said, “It’s great that more women are in employment but for too many working life just means a different kind of poverty and insecurity. The alarming shift in the UK’s job market towards low-pay and casualised contracts is hitting women hardest and risks turning the clock back on decades of progress towards equal pay.
“Unless more is done to tackle poverty wages and job security women in particular will be excluded from Britain’s economic recovery.”
Photo: mirianpastor via Flickr