British women lose out on $256b a year in gender pay gap

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LONDON Women in Britain earn almost £140 billion (S$256 billion) a year less than men, campaigners said on Wednesday.

A man working full-time earns an average of £39,000 a year, while a full-time female employee earns nearly £30,000 a year. This means collectively, Britain's 15 million working women miss out on £138 billion each year.

"Where companies find they have a gap, there should be a requirement to put in place a plan to close it," said Dr Carole Easton, head of anti-poverty group Young Women's Trust, which produced the figure for women's lost wages.

"Without action, today's young women face a lifetime of unequal pay," she said in a statement, adding that the pay gap widens when part-time work is taken into account.

Britain was one of the first countries to introduce a law last year requiring companies with at least 250 workers - which covers almost half of Britain's workforce - to report pay discrepancies between male and female employees.

The government is also investing in free childcare and introducing shared parental leave to promote gender equality in the workplace.

The Young Women's Trust said men tend to be paid more, reach higher positions and are more likely to work in higher-paid industries.

"Young women are more likely to be on low pay, and many are resorting to food banks or falling into debt."

It called for support for women to enter better-paid, male-dominated sectors, such as engineering and construction, and for flexible working hours to enable parents to share childcare responsibilities. - REUTERS