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Pay gap “closing slowly”


The gap between men’s and women’s pay is slowly closing, according to the New Earnings Survey. The figures show that, on average, men now earn 19 per cent more than women, compared with 20 percent a year ago.

Equal Opportunities Minister Margaret Hodge said the pace of change needed to speed up, but "today’s figures show we are on the right track". They show also that over the past ten years women’s earnings have risen by 24 per cent in real terms, to an average of £326.50. Men’s earnings now average £442.40, a rise of 14 per cent over the same period. When the Equal Pay Act was introduced in 1970, women’s average hourly earnings for full-time work were 63 per cent of men’s. They have now reached 80.9 per cent.

The survey does not yet show the impact of the National Minimum Wage, from which women are expected to be the major beneficiaries since more of them are in low-paid jobs.

"Work of equal value" inquiries by employment tribunals will, the Government hopes, be speeded up. At present they can take months, because two independent experts are required to evaluate each case: in future only one assessment will be needed.


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