WOMEN in the West Midlands earn less than men, new figures released ahead of Equal Pay Day have revealed.

Women’s rights charity the Fawcett Society has estimated based on average earnings across the country, women will effectively work for free from November 22 until the end of the year.

Office for National Statistics figures show women in the West Midlands were earning an average of £16.30 per hour as of April, while men were paid £18.03 – a gap of 9.6 per cent.

The average pay gap in the country stood at 8.2 per cent this year, with male workers making £18.14 per hour, while female workers earned £16.65.

In Dudley, women were earning an average of £15.06 per hour as of April, while men were paid £15.21 – a gap of one per cent.

The figures are based on full-time workers’ median wages and exclude overtime pay.

Equal Pay Day will be marked on November 22 this year, after which “women start working for free until the end of the year,” Jemima Olchawski, chief executive at the Fawcett Society said.

She added: “This is just 48 hours later than last year and represents a shift in the gender pay gap of just 0.2 percentage points.

“There are so many policy interventions that could turn the dial but the simplest of them all is making flexible work the default.

“A lack of genuinely flexible, quality work traps women in roles below their capabilities and encourages the notion that flexible work is a privilege, not an essential part of a modern economy. This is a big reason we have a persistent gender pay gap which harms women and our economy.”

In the West Midlands men’s wages saw an annual growth of 3.1 per cent, while women earned 6.4 per cent more than they did a year ago.

In Dudley men’s wages saw almost no annual growth, while women had almost no increase to their earnings than they did a year ago.

Rebecca Florisson, principal analyst at the Work Foundation at Lancaster University, said: “Although the gender pay gap has narrowed over time, it remains substantial. We know women are nearly twice as likely as men to be in insecure and low-paid work, and the picture is even worse for mothers.

“We must ensure fewer women feel the need to trade job security against flexibility. That means boosting the provision of affordable care and childcare options, and embedding flexibility across a much greater proportion of secure and well paid jobs.”

A spokesperson for the Government’s Equality Hub said: “The gender pay gap has been trending downwards since 1997, and the Government continues to take significant action to ensure women can reach their full potential at work.

“We are starting a childcare revolution with an increase to 30 hours free childcare from 9 months to school age, £100 million in capital funding to help nurseries expand, and £289 million for the wraparound care across the country.

“Millions of employees will be able to request flexible working from day one, and our STEM returners programme is getting carers back into the workplace.”