This is when Equal Pay Day is in 2020 - and why women work for free after this date

The gender pay gap is still a very real problem in Scotland.

According to an analysis by the JPIMedia Data Unit, the gender pay gap here is 8.3 percent, which is the equivalent of 30 days of unpaid work in 2020.

And the coronavirus pandemic has made the situation worse, as not only do women typically earn less than men, reports have shown women have been more vulnerable to redundancies and loss of livelihoods with the closure of businesses.

Clearly, there’s still a lot to be done when it comes to closing the gap, which is marked each year by Equal Pay Day.

So, what exactly is the day, when is it - and why do women effectively work for free after this date?

What is Equal Pay Day?

Equal Pay Day marks when women in the UK, on average, stop earning money for the rest of the year compared to men.

Each year, gender equality charity the Fawcett Society calculates when Equal Pay Day should fall.

When is Equal Pay Day 2020?

The Fawcett Society uses the full-time mean average gender pay gap to work out when Equal Pay Day should be.

Based on Office for National Statistics (ONS) earnings figures for 2020, the mean average gender pay gap for full time workers is 11.5 percent, down from 13.1 percent in 2019.

Using that method, the charity announced that Equal Pay Day will be on Friday 20 November 2020.

This means women will effectively be working for free for the rest of the year from that date.

As this year’s gender pay gap has fallen from last year, Equal Pay Day is six days later compared to 2019 when it fell on 14 November.

Why did Equal Pay Day start?

After many years of women campaigning for financial equality, The Equal Pay Act was passed in 1970 but not implemented until January 1976.

During the years in between, employers tried to evade the Act by changing women’s job titles to justify the unequal wages for men and women who were doing exactly the same roles.

Further campaigning by trade unions has resulted in much progress on equal pay, like the implementation of the Equality Act 2010, which states men and women are entitled to equal pay and conditions if they are doing the same or equivalent job.

However, there is still a long way to go which is made clear by Equal Pay Day each year.

The Fawcett Society recently proposed an Equal Pay Bill, which would give women who suspect they are not getting equal pay the “Right to Know” what a male colleague doing the same work is paid.

What is the gender pay gap in Scotland?

According to the JPIMedia Data Unit, the gender pay gap in Scotland in 2020 is 8.3 percent, down from 10.9 percent in 2019.

In the whole of the UK, the gender pay gap was 11.5 percent in 2020, down from 13 percent in 2019.

That means women in the UK effectively worked for free for 42 days this year.

The most recent ONS study found the problem appears to lie within older age groups, as the gap remained close to zero for full time employees under 40 years old, but it was over 10 percent for those over 40.

It also showed that higher earners experienced a larger difference in hourly pay between men and women.

Why is there a gender pay gap?

The gender pay gap is caused by much more than men and women being paid differently for the same jobs.

The ONS has identified the key factors which cause unequal pay:

22 percent of the gap is due to the different industries and occupations in which women work21 percent of the gap is due to differences in years of full-time work16 percent of the gap is due to the negative effect on wages of having previously worked part-time or of having taken time out of the labour market to look after familyOnly 5 percent of the gap is due to formal education levels.

Other factors include the seniority of roles, socioeconomic status and attitudes to maternity leave.

How could coronavirus impact the gender pay gap?

The Fawcett Society said this year’s reduction in the gender pay gap was “welcome” but warned that it came with a “significant reliability warning” as the ONS had difficulties collecting data due to coronavirus.

It said there were a “number of risks” to women’s pay and employment as a result of the pandemic, which could “turn the clock back for a generation”.

That includes mothers who are more likely to have had their work disrupted due to unequal caring roles and a lack of childcare facilities.

Men are also more likely to have worked under furlough and to have had their pay topped up.

Further harsh restrictions, in Scotland and throughout the UK, could hit women working in hospitality and retail whereas men working in male-dominated sectors like construction and manufacturing can continue to go to work.