Kate Green MP, Labour's Shadow Minister for Equalities, responding to ONS figures on the gender pay gap, said:
"While it's pleasing that the pay gap between men and women has narrowed, more than 30 years after the Equal Pay Act, it can't be right that full-time earnings for women are £5600 per annum lower than for men . And when part-time workers are taken into account, the gender pay gap based on median hourly earnings is still 19.7% - far, far too high. The Government's decision to scrap compulsory pay audits if enough progress isn’t made by 2013 is now looking far too hasty.
"It's also worrying that the professions which have the highest pay rates - like aircraft pilots and flight engineers - are still those dominated by men. The Government needs to take action to encourage girls and women to consider non-traditional careers, and to encourage employers to pay the living wage, which could help reduce the pay gap.
"The progress on full-time pay also masks a myriad of other concerns faced by working women, including the triple whammy of cuts in support for childcare, rising costs and fewer places."