The difference in the pay received by men and women in the UK is not ethically justified, a trade body has said.

According to the Trades Union Congress (TUC), women are now increasingly working in the same jobs as their male counterparts but "society hasn’t caught up".

Commenting on the issue, Sarah Veal, head of equality and employment rights at the TUC, said that women are still penalised for a variety of reasons that are "beyond their control".

She went on to suggest that more needs to be done to encourage men to take time off work in order to raise a family.

Ms Veal added: "There is still an expectation that women will take the time off to look after children and that any kind of family difficulties thereafter, to do with looking after sick children and so on, will tend to fall to the woman."

According to figures produced by the Government Equalities Office, the mean average gap of full-time pay between the genders last year was 17.2 per cent.