Gender Pay Gap Widens To Fury Of Union
Ministers should be "ashamed" after official figures showed the gender pay gap has widened for the first time in five years, the TUC has said.
There had been progress in closing the wage difference between men and women since 2008 but the Office for National Statistics (ONS) found the difference - based on average hourly earnings for full-time workers - increased from 9.5% last year to 10%.
For all employees, including part-timers, the figure rose from 19.6% to 19.7%.
The TUC trade union group said its analysis of the data based on mean, or average, figures showed that the gender pay gap was 15.7%.
Its general secretary, Frances O'Grady, said: "Years of a slow, steady progress on closing the gender pay gap has gone into reverse.
"Ministers should be ashamed of presiding over this latest dismal record on pay.
"It is not right that in Britain today women still earn 15% less per hour than men, a pay gap that costs full-time women over £5,000 a year.
"The light-touch, voluntary approach to tackling gender pay inequality is clearly failing. We need tougher action to force companies to look at their pay gaps, while government can lead the way by making all new jobs available on a part-time or flexible basis."
The wider figures released by the ONS highlighted the squeeze on family budgets as income growth fails to match rising prices - with the CPI measure of inflation standing at 2.9% in April.
For the year ending April 5, 2013, average gross annual earnings for full-time employees were £27,000, an increase of 2.1% from the previous year.
Average gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were highest in London, at £658, and lowest in Northern Ireland, at £460.
Economists continue to expect restraint on pay growth into 2014.