This week (Tuesday 4th November) was Equal Pay day. Equal Pay day is marked each year as the day women start working for free because of the gender pay gap. In 2013 Equal Pay Day fell on 7 November, however this year it’s 3 days earlier on 4 November, because the gender pay gap rose last year.
David Cameron and Nick Clegg have turned the clock backwards on Equal Pay. Women earn on average £2.53 less per hour than men. That’s just 80p for every pound a man earns. Since 2010 progress to close the pay gap has ground to a halt and is now back on the rise. In Government Labour closed the pay gap by almost 1/3rd and closed the gap almost entirely for women under 40. At the current rate of progress it will take over 100 years from Labour’s Equal Pay Act to deliver pay equality.
It’s not hard to see why. If you’re a woman in work, things have never been tougher. A quarter of all working women are now earning less than the living wage. A record six million women are working part time, four times as many as men part-time work is paid 1/3rd less per hour than a for full time job and record numbers of them say it’s because they can’t get more hours. Women make up the majority (55%) of zero-hour contracts, which the ONS estimate to now total 1.4million employees. A third of the jobs women have found since 2010 are in self-employment with average income £9,800 a year - less than the minimum wage if you’re working full-time, and 40% less than self-employed men.
Labour will act to deliver Equal Pay. Under a Labour Government companies with more than 250 workers will have to publish their hourly pay gap in their annual report.
Labour will support women and their families. An £8 minimum wage under Labour will give 3.9 million low paid women a pay rise. 25 hours free childcare for working parents of 3 and 4 year olds will support more mums who want to go back to work but can’t afford it – and that’s ON TOP of Tax-Free Childcare.
Most zero-hours contract jobs are done by women, making budgeting and childcare arrangements impossible. If you’ve been working regular hours on a zero-hours contract, you will have a right to a regular contract under Labour. Women-led small businesses contribute £70 billion to our economy. We will back more women to start their own businesses by cutting business rates in 2015 and freeze them again in 2016 for small businesses rather than going ahead with the Government’s corporation tax cut for the largest firms.
We’ll scrap the hated bedroom tax which according to the Government is hitting 400,000 women. We’ll support thousands of young women back to work, with a real paid job or training for all those under 25 out of work for more than a year. Labour will provide a real paid job for women 25 and over who’ve been out of work for more than two years too. We will provide a guarantee to parents that they will have access to Breakfast and Afterschool clubs when children are in Primary School to help them juggle work and family life. We will freeze energy bills until 2017 while we reform the market to help all families struggling with energy bills that have risen by £300 since the election.