According to a TUC analysis of government statistics on hours and earnings, women earn less than men annually at every stage in their careers.

The analysis also found, however, that women over 50 suffer the widest gap, earning just over £85,000 less over the course of this decade than a full-time man.

For an 18-year old woman, the gap stands at just under £1400 per year and then steadily increases. By the time she is in her 30s, the gap stands at just over £3,000. It then widens sharply for women in their 40s, increasing to £7,234 a year, probably because of the differential impact of parenthood on women compared to men.

The pay gap then widens even further for women in their 50s, hitting £8,504 a year, or £85,040 through the decade, as caring responsibilities – including for older relatives – continue to have an impact.

The TUC recommends a number of steps that the government and employers could take to reduce the gap:

  • Offer support for more equal parenting roles, including better paid, specific leave for dads.
  • Reduce the excessive working hours in some full-time jobs.
  • Offer better support for women when they become mothers, such as opportunities to work flexibly or work reduced hours.
  • Greater efforts to ensure women are not overlooked for training or promotion opportunities once they have children.
  • Better pay gap reporting.

By way of encouraging employers who are not convinced that the pay gap matters, a new ICM poll commissioned by the Fawcett Society, which campaigns for gender equality, found that women were significantly more likely than men to be looking for an employer who is taking action to close the gender pay gap.

Caroline Underhill, from Thompsons Solicitors, said: “The TUC report shows the cost of children and other caring responsibilities has a disproportionate effect on womens’ pay. The steps the TUC recommends will help make sure the 18 to 29 year olds of today do not face the same pay penalty when they reach 40.”

To read the TUC analysis in full, go to: