Women ‘face pay penalty for becoming mothers before 33’

A fifth of female employees are forced out of their jobs after becoming pregnant, suggests TUC study

Women who become mothers before the age of 33 earn 15 per cent less than their female colleagues without children, according to a survey from the Trades Union Congress (TUC) released to coincide with today’s International Women’s Day.

The TUC’s findings come from a birth cohort study of 17,000 people, and suggest that women who have children young are more likely to be in part-time work and earn less on average, even allowing for levels of education and job role.

Older mothers earn an average of 12 per cent more than colleagues without children. In the study a fifth of female respondents under the age of 25 who have children said they were dismissed or effectively forced out of their jobs because of pregnancy or maternity leave. This compares to one in 10 mothers of all ages.

Frances O’Grady, general secretary of the TUC, said: “Millions of mothers still suffer the motherhood pay penalty. We need to do far more to support all working mums, starting by increasing the number of quality part-time jobs and making childcare much more affordable.

“Women in full-time, well-paid jobs shouldn’t be the only ones able to both become parents and see their careers progress.”

Pregnancy discrimination has become an increasingly important topic since recent government research suggested that 54,000 women were forced out of their jobs because of pregnancy in 2015, double the numbers of a decade earlier. An EHRC report that was expected to delve further into these figures, and the reasons behind them, has been delayed several times, leading to criticism from opposition politicians.

Meanwhile, a separate study – PwC’s Women in Work Index – suggests that the UK is missing out on up to £170bn in economic benefit (equivalent to 9 per cent of GDP) by not having enough women in employment. This is despite the UK rising five places to sixteenth in the index, which measures levels of female employment and the size of the gender pay gap in 33 countries.

Gaenor Bagley, head of people and executive board member at PwC, said: “It’s great to see that the UK has improved its overall performance, but businesses and the economy are still losing out because of the low number of women in full-time employment and the low number of mothers in employment.

“The high cost of childcare has a role to play, but businesses need to play their part in supporting parents to combine work and family life. This includes following the lead of the Nordic countries and offering more flexible roles and working patterns for men and women, shared paternity leave and helping women back into work after career breaks.”

Story via – http://www.cipd.co.uk/pm/peoplemanagement/b/weblog/archive/2016/03/08/women-face-pay-penalty-for-becoming-mothers-before-33.aspx

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