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Huge gender pay gap for the self-employed

Good news, bad news. The gender pay gap for full-time employees has narrowed in all UK regions between 1997 and 2013, according to figures recently released by the Office for National Statistics.

A fly in the ointment is that last year the gap increased for the first time in five years, rising from 9.5 per cent to 10 per cent.

But other official figures reported in The Observer suggest there's even less reason to celebrate about the general long-term narrowing of the pay gap. A recent report from HMRC revealed that self-employed women earned 40 per cent less than self-employed men in 2012.

Self-employment pay gap

The average income for a self-employed man was £17,000, but for a woman it was only £9,800. The gap was most stark in London, where self-employed men earned on average £25,700, but women earned less than half that.

The number of self-employed people has risen by 10 per cent since the economic downturn, and women have accounted for more than half of that rise.

Commentators have noted that the rise in self-employment has coincided with a fall in employee numbers.

Others say that clerical, caring and cleaning work, which is dominated by women workers, have experienced the fastest increase in self-employment.

Frances O'Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said that this was 'bogus self-employment', which was 'bad news for workers because they miss out on vital rights at work - such as paid holidays and employee pension contributions - without having the advantage of being their own boss'.

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