Men earn more when they become fathers, says study

But mothers suffer an 11 per cent ‘wage penalty’, with ‘deep-rooted prejudice’ to blame

Men who become fathers are paid almost a quarter (21 per cent) more than their childless co-workers, according to a TUC analysis of 17,000 people’s earnings – but working mothers receive 11 per cent less than women without children.

The study also found that fathers with two children earn 9 per cent more than those with just one child. Though it drew no conclusions about the reasons for this salary uplift, commentators have speculated that men work longer hours, and are the recipients of positive stereotyping at work when they become fathers, whereas new mothers fall foul of “deep-rooted prejudice”.

The TUC based its findings on an ONS analysis of those born in 1970, enabling it to control for age and seniority. It was only able to compare figures for biological parents, rather than step or adoptive parents. The report also cited international studies that have shown recruiters favour CVs from fathers over childless men, but mark women down if they are mothers.

Sarah Jackson, CEO of the Working Families campaign group, said biases are to blame for the figures: “This deep-rooted, perhaps unconscious, prejudice against working women is the complete opposite to when a man has a child and he is perceived as committed and reliable. This just fuels stereotypes about who the breadwinner in a family is.”

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said mothers are still often treated as “liabilities” by employers, whereas “men with children are seen as more committed”. She added that although men play a more active role in child-rearing compared to previous generations, this had yet to be reflected at work, where many are afraid to request flexible working or time off to meet childcare requirements in case it damages their career prospects.

“We won’t break this cycle unless fathers are given access to independent paid leave to look after their kids, which isn’t shared with their partners,” added O’Grady. “We need more decently paid jobs to be available on a reduced hours or flexible-work basis. This would reduce the motherhood pay penalty and enable more dads to take work that fits with their parenting responsibilities.”

The latest ONS statistics, published in November 2015, showed that the broad gender pay gap between men and women in full-time employment stood at 9.4 per cent in April 2015, compared with 9.6 per cent in 2014. But Jackson added: “Employers really need to start looking at who is promoted and who is rewarded. There’s an awful lot to do to achieve gender equality at work.”

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