Working Mother’s Subject To ‘Penalty Pay’ From Working Part Time

gender pay gap

by Georgia Aspinall |
Published on

A study by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation has found that working mothers earn nearly a third less than fathers by the time a couple’s first child is aged 20. This is due to part-time work not having the same benefits as full-time, exponentially impacting women who are the majority of part-timers because of motherhood responsibilities.

While it’s illegal for part time work not to have the same pay rise prospects as full-time, the report shows that people working part time see wage progression shut down, stating:

'Whereas, in general, people in paid work see their pay rise year on year as they gain more experience, our new research shows that part-time workers miss out on these gains.'

This not only impacts women the most, notably mothers of young children, but women at graduate level, who otherwise would see their hourly wage increase year on year if they remained full-time during motherhood. Robert Joyce, co-author of the report, told the BBC:

‘Traditionally it has been lower-educated women whose wages were especially low relative to similarly educated men.

‘It is now the highest-educated women whose wages are the furthest behind their male counterparts - and this is particularly related to the fact that they lose out so badly from working part-time.’

In fact, lower-educated women have seen the gender pay gap close, narrowing from 28% in the 1990’s to 18% in 2016. For those with degrees, the gap has closed by 1% since 1993. One example from the report was a woman who had worked full-time for seven years before having a baby, and would have seen an average hourly pay increase by 6% a year- but would see ‘none of the wage progression’ if she became part-time.

The study proposed that some of the reasons why part-time work has lower wage progression were because of ‘less training provision, missing out on informal interactions and networking opportunities, and genuine constraints placed upon the build-up of skill by working fewer hours’. However, there was still a gender pay gap of 10% before motherhood, according to the IFS.

Joyce has therefore stated that there ‘could be a solution’ if UK companies with more than 250 employees publish their gender pay gaps, as called for as part of new legislation put forward by Women and Equalities minister Justine Greening. The deadline for these figures is April 2018, when women around the UK will be able to understand fully how unequal their pay is.

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