Equal Pay Day 2020: gender pay gap and the day women in Sussex start working for free revealed

Every year gender equality charity the Fawcett Society calculates when Equal Pay Day will fall – the day that women stop earning for the rest of the year compared to men.

This year it falls on November 20th for the UK as a whole, based on Office for National Statistics earnings figures for 2020, which shows an 11.5% gender pay gap for full-time workers.

An analysis of local earnings figures by the JPIMedia Data Unit reveals women in full-time employment in East Sussex earn an average of of 16.3 per cent less than men, while in West Sussex, that figure rises to 18.5 per cent.

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The average woman in East Sussex earns £15.52 per hour, while men earn £18.54. In West Sussex, women earn an average of £15.87 to men’s average of £19.48 per hour.

The gender pay gap is yet to be closed in many parts of the UK.

The figures exclude earnings from overtime.

This means the local Equal Pay Day would fall on November 2, 2020 in East Sussex, and October 25 in West Sussex.

Women in East Sussex therefore work for free for an average of 8.4 weeks, and women in West Sussex for 9.7 weeks.

The ONS cautions that this year’s figures may be less reliable than previous years, because the coronavirus pandemic has caused difficulties in gathering data.

Last year, there was a 15.7 per cent gender pay gap in East Sussex and a 18.2 per cent pay gap in West Sussex – with women working 57 days and 66 free days in each area respectively in 2019.

Across the UK, the gap has fallen from 13.1% in 2019. The Fawcett Society said it welcomed the drop, but urged against celebrating too early as the coronavirus crisis risks turning the clock back on equality.

Chief executive Sam Smethers said: “There are a number of risks to women’s pay and employment as a result of coronavirus which could turn the clock back for a generation.

“Mothers are more likely to have had their work disrupted due to unequal caring roles and a lack of childcare.

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

“The second lockdown looks set to hit women working in hospitality and retail hard while predominantly male-dominated sectors like construction and manufacturing are still at work.”

She added that a quarter of employers were missing from the ONS dataset, which were likely to be the ones hit hardest by the pandemic, while the short-term impact of furlough makes the figures less clear.