The date women start working for free until the end of the year

·5-min read
  • The date of this year's Equal Pay Day has been released and falls on Sunday 20 November

  • Equal Pay Day is the day in the year when, based on data about average pay, women overall stop being paid compared to men

  • According to statistics released by the The Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for women's rights, the current gender pay gap stands at 11.3%, a small decrease from 11.9% last year

  • Read on to find out what can be done about the pay gap and why we still need to campaign for gender equality in the workplace

Picture of a man and woman at work, following news that this year's Equal Pay Day falls on Sunday. (Getty Images)
This year Equal Pay Day falls on Sunday November 15. (Getty Images)

How’s your day at work shaping up, ladies? Back to back meetings? To-do list off-the-scale? But no matter how tough your working day least there’s the silver lining in the thought that you’re getting paid for it. Oh wait, turns out you're not. Because from Sunday until 2023 women are effectively working for free thanks to the gender pay gap.

The Fawcett Society, a charity campaigning for gender equality and women’s rights have confirmed that this year's Equal Pay Day 2022 will fall on 20 November

It marks the day in the year where women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the ongoing difference between the average pay in their salaries.

Read more: Women twice as likely as men to be asked to make tea at work, research finds

Stock picture of a woman looking at her pay packet. (Getty Images)
Equal Pay Day is the day women start working for free until the end of the year. (Getty Images)

According to latest figures from the ONS (Office for National Statistics), the current gender pay gap stands at 11.3%, a tiny decrease from 11.9% last year.

Of course, it's not a huge surprise that the gender pay gap is closing much too slowly. Back in 2017, the pay gap stood at almost 13.9% with Equal Pay Day falling on 10th November, meaning its moved forward just 10 days in the last five years.

At the time the Fawcett Society anticipated it would take an inconceivable 60 years to eradicate if we continue at the progress rate we’re going.

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To speed things up the organisation is calling for the government to do more to secure equal pay for both sexes.

“It is deeply disappointing that the gender pay gap has barely shifted in the past few years, especially given the cost of living crisis is hitting women the hardest and forcing them to make impossible choices," explains Jemima Olchawski, CEO of the Fawcett Society.

"Other data indicates that the pay gap may be even worse for women of colour - though we still don't know the full picture."

The campaign for equal working pay and rights isn't limited to the UK. Earlier this week, on November 15, the European Union marked its own Equal Pay Day as women across the bloc continue to make 13% less than their male colleagues.

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Stock picture of a man and woman at work. (Getty Images)
According to statistics it will take 60 years to close the pay gap. (Getty Images)

Progress on closing this gap has been equally slow across Europe as well as in the UK, with a narrowing of 2.8% over the past decade, despite rigorous campaigning by female workers.

Back in 2017 women across Europe took part in various walkouts in protest of the pay disparity. In French workplaces female employees switched off their computers at precisely 4.34pm, the exact moment at which their annual 38.2 days of ‘unpaid labour’ began.

And in the same year thousands of Icelandic women left work at 2.38pm on a Monday afternoon, the time from which they are essentially working for free per eight-hour day they work.

To aid the protest and speed up narrowing of the gender gap in Europe, EU commissioners Věra Jourová and Helena Dallithey are calling on EU countries to enhance work on ensuring the right conditions are in place for women and men to have more choice and to better share caring responsibilities and work.

"Equal work deserves equal pay: this is a founding principle of the European Union," the commissioners said in a joint statement. "Solving the injustice of gender pay gap cannot come without change to the structural imbalances in society."

Read more: Childcare is costing UK parents over two-thirds of their salaries

Indeed, in an explainer about the gender pay gap, the Fawcett Society points out that there is more at play than just pay discrimination, including unequal shares of caring work in the home done by men and women, resulting in women doing more part-time work, which tends to be lower paid.

The organisation also explains that there is an under-valuing of the types of work women do – meaning the sectors that women are more likely to work in are less well paid than those sectors in which men are more concentrated in.

There is also a lack of women entering some well-paid careers such as science and engineering and an ongoing failure to promote women within organisations, all of which contribute to a lack of progress on closing the pay gap.

Stock picture of a woman concerned about money due to the gender pay gap. (Getty Images)
The Fawcett Society is calling on the government to take action to close the gender pay gap. (Getty Images)

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So what do we do about it?

Olchawski says we need "urgent" action now in order to put women's equality at the heart of the nation's economic recovery.

“The government should make flexible work the default with a requirement for jobs to be advertised as flexible upfront, to enable more women to work," she says.

"We need mandatory ethnicity pay gap reporting and action plans, and we need employers to stop asking discriminatory salary history questions. Women can’t afford to wait any longer for the gap to close.”